How to Create Check-in Deals to Rank High in Facebook Graph Search

Do you want your brick and mortar business to benefit from Facebook Graph Search? It’s time to reconsider a feature you had likely long forgotten.

That’s right, Check-in Deals. Not Offers. Instead, it’s the feature that Offers had supposedly replaced.

Admittedly, I completely forgot about Check-in Deals when I was watching a webinar by Hubze. They spent quite a bit of time talking about how businesses looking to benefit from Graph Search should create Check-in Deals.

My first thought: What year is this?

You see, the Check-in Deal is an old feature (I’ll get to the details of the feature in a moment). Facebook Offers, I had thought, replaced the Check-in Deal close to a year ago. published an article on February 29, 2012, essentially marking the demise of Check-in Deals.

From that article, aptly titled Facebook to give pages new ‘Offers’ posts, scrap check-in deals (emphasis is mine):

Facebook pages will soon have access to a new free story type that allows page owners to post offers that users can collect from News Feed or ad units. Unlike check-in deals, which required users to first visit a physical location, offers can be redeemed in-store or online. The social network plans to remove check-in deals in the coming weeks.

Offers will be created directly from the page publisher and do not require approval from Facebook before going live. Check-in deals, on the other hand, were available through a hard-to-find dashboard and needed to be reviewed by Facebook. Starting today, no new check-in deals will be approved, but Facebook hasn’t provided exact timing for when these deals will be removed from the site completely.

But Check-in Deals are alive and well (though I’ve been told they are not available in some countries). I created my own Check-in Deal late last week, but it has not yet been approved. I wrote this status update, and I was surprised to find out that many businesses are actually utilizing this.

What is a Check-in Deal?

A Check-in Deal is a way to offer an incentive to customers to check-in to your business on Facebook with their mobile devices. When they check-in, you can offer any of the following Deals in exchange:

Individual: Offer a discount to an individual for simply checking in.

Loyalty: Offer a discount or freebie for checking in a certain number of times.

Friend: Offer a Deal to groups of friends who check-in together.

Charity: A check-in results in a donation to the specified charity.

I feel like I’m stuck in a time warp writing about this since it’s been so long since I last even thought about Check-in Deals. But it’s time to get to know them again. Here’s why…

How is This Related to Graph Search?

Facebook Graph Search is currently in beta, but you can bet it will drastically change the way we search for and find information. Most importantly for the purpose of this blog post, it will change how we discover businesses.

When you search for “Restaurants that people like in Denver, CO,” for example, Facebook will sort through their mounds of data to customize your results. Factors that will put a restaurant at the top include:

  • Friend activity
  • Check-ins
  • Page Likes
  • Post shares, comments and likes
  • Some other super secret stuff

Here’s a screen grab from a search that Facebook features on Introducing Graph Search:

Facebook Graph Search Example

See that? Each listed restaurant displays which friends have checked in at that location.

Everyone’s thinking about the “new SEO of Social Search.” Well, to show up high in Graph Search, you’ll need to do much of what you’ve been doing. You want to provide quality content that attracts engagement. But you also want to convert those customers who already visit your business to check-ins.

So… how could one incentivize such a check-in, you ask? How about the Check-in Deal?

How to Create a Facebook Check-in Deal

First of all, your Facebook Page must be connected to a Place. If it’s possible to check-in at your business, you should be good to go. The number of people who have checked into your business appears under your Cover Photo:

Facebook Checkins

If it even says “0” then you are set up properly. Otherwise, you will need to follow a process similar to what is outlined here.

Now, go to Admin Panel > Edit Page > Update Info.

At the bottom of the left hand menu, there should be an option for “Deals.” Click that. Then click “Create a Check-in Deal for this Page.”

Create Facebook Check-in Deal

Now you’ll want to select the type of Check-in Deal that you want to create, as described earlier.

Facebook Check-in Deal Type

Now define your Deal by indicating the details of your incentive and redemption.

Define Facebook Check-in Deal

Finally, enter the details of the restrictions of your Deal by providing the start and end dates, number available and whether customers can make repeat claims. Then click “Create Deal.”

Facebook Check-in Deal Restrictions

Facebook says it will take up to a couple of days to review your Deal. When approved, it will look something like this (before and after check-in):

Facebook Check-in Deal Before and After

Promote Your Check-in Deal

Okay, you’ve created your Check-in Deal. Now how are you going to let people know about it? You need customers to check-in because when they do so, their friends will see it (depending on privacy settings, of course). And as we’ve discussed, more check-ins will also help you show up high on Graph Search.

If you want your Check-in Deal to be successful, I suggest the following:

1. Make it a good deal. You’re offering 5% off if I spend a minute to fumble with my phone and give you free advertising? You don’t say? No thanks.

Make it a good one! Understand that you are offering something in exchange for your customers promoting you to their friends. Additionally, you are giving them something with the hope that this will help others discover you in search. So don’t skimp when you consider the value, but also weigh the demand, costs and resources on hand.

2. Create a Status Update. Let your Fans know about it by publishing a status update. If you are local, you may want to target it appropriately.

3. Create signs. Most of your customers won’t also be your Facebook Fans. Create signs by the register or at tables letting them know that they can get this great deal simply by checking in.

4. Run Ads. Unlike Facebook Offers, Check-in Deals don’t require advertising to publish to the News Feeds of Fans. You can create Check-in Deals at no cost whatsoever. But if you want to extend your reach, feel free to promote. A Promoted Post may be a good idea here.

Your Turn

How are you incentivizing customers to check-in to your business? Let me know in the comments below!

More Reading About Check-in Deals (from Facebook):

  • Pingback: How to Create Check-in Deals to Rank High in Facebook Graph Search | SM |

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  • marktharparms

    Sadly, Facebook Check In Deals aren’t available in the UK at present, which is a shame – FourSquare doesn’t have the traction here to make powerful use of their Specials service (although it’s excellent) but FB would be a powerful tool to use. I often suggest creating a ‘reward’ for customers who check-in – they check-in but show the screen to a member of staff and receive their reward that way.

    Harder to analyse and follow in Insights, admittedly, but still reasonably effective.

    • Jon Loomer

      That is definitely a shame, Mark. Given how old this feature is, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    • Kathryn Hellewell

      I have just been having this conversation with Hugh Briss from Social Identities. One of my clients is a hotel group (UK based). You can’t create a check in deal so I was looking to see if there’s a way to identify those who check in so we could offer them something. The hotels are reasonably small so it would be easy to try and ‘thank’ the guest with something if they did ‘check in’, it just seems so much more clunky to ask them to show the screen. Thanks for confirming what I’d already thought and spent ages looking at though! If you have any creative ideas for getting round this I’d love to hear them!

      • marktharparms

        @kathrynhellewell:disqus – if you’re on Twitter send me a DM I’ll be happy to share ideas with you. I work in the UK hospitality trade in digital marketing. You can find me @markinapub

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  • David Foster

    GREAT Article Jon, and thanks for the mention. I do think it has been overlooked for some time…just kind of sitting there waiting for someone to notice…like me at the high school prom!! :)

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, David! It’s been COMPLETELY ignored — and I’ve certainly ignored it. I remember writing a blog post about it close to two years ago — I don’t even recall where that blog post would be since it was before this one existed. I was excited at the time. But once Offers launched and InsideFacebook said Check-in Deals were done, I “checked out.”

      Just like at the prom. You sit there. You act cool. You don’t say anything to draw attention to yourself. Suddenly, everyone swarms your corner.

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  • Scott Ayres

    Yeah we were all told this feature was nixed. So odd that it’s still sitting around. I think I even wrote a post for Hubze talking about the demise of Check-ins when Offers was announced!

    You said you created one but it wasn’t approved yet. I’ll be curious to see if they do in fact approve you or not. Keep us posted.

    • Jon Loomer

      It ended up being approved, Scott. Since so many people had told me they were running these, I was confident that it was functional even without that approval. But it did take about three days.

      • Kathryn Hellewell

        I searched ‘help’ about check in deals this morning and the answer came back to say they’d been replaced by offers which I understand are also soon to be axed. Very strange.

  • makemyblogmoney

    Good info, I am still trying to figure out Search Graph, but I think it will make for a great way to build more followers eventually.

    • Jon Loomer

      Agreed! I’m also curious about what will happen when advertising is tweaked for this.

      • makemyblogmoney

        Goodness..don’t remind me. Yet another way to advertise on Faecbook. Can’t they just let this be a plain and simple way to connect without whoring themselves out to the almighty dollar.

        I’m lurking on your site, reading all your posts if you can’t tell…how have we not met before? :)

        • Jon Loomer

          We’ve all gotta make money, my friend! Not only Facebook, but the brands on Facebook. So as long as the integration makes sense, I’m all for it!

          Probably not all that surprising that we haven’t met. I’ve kept a low profile until recently (can’t avoid it now!), and the only event I’ve attended is the Marketing Conference in NYC last December. But I hope to get out more this year!

          • makemyblogmoney

            Yeah I was thinking that I needed to get to some more conferences too. But I really don’t know where to look for one’s on the East coast.

  • Mick Dickinson

    Deals not visible or available in UK. I have checked on this from time to time over the months but we never get the chance to use this great feature.

  • Varietees Printing

    Thanks for the tip. Still trying to learn the steps. Hope it would work for my page. Thanks Jon!

  • Shane Johnston

    Deals are supposed to be available here in Canada, however I don’t seem to have it for any of the Pages that I mange most of which are Local Place Pages …not sure why.

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  • Glen Wilson

    Interesting artricle. In Australia, we don’t have this option, would be great to have though.

    • Steve

      So what are the guidelines for promoting people to “check in” if we don’t have this feature in Australia?

  • Jennifer

    Created a check in for charity deal for a client and we’re not seeing the yellow “flag” on the nearby list. First experience with this type of deal. It’s been approved! Any ideas? I am excited it’s part of graph search factors – I love the check in! Thanks Jon!

    • Jon Loomer

      Tough to say, Jennifer. Entirely possible that the notes in Help Center about it appearing by nearby businesses on mobile are outdated. That said, the primary focus should be on encouraging the check-in with signage.

      Good luck!

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  • Scott Bangs

    I created a check in deal, and it got approved. But did not work. Meaning, when users checked in to my local phoenix bar, nothing happened. The check in flag was not displayed, the amount of check-ins we set, were not decreased, no facebook tracking for this deal at all. When a user went to places, the approved check in deal did not even show up. But as I am the page manager, I could see the approved check in, and even share it to the wall.

    But reality, just didn’t function as advertised to the end user, so I thought the original comment held true. So we use FB for Offers and let foursquare be the guy for attracting Check-ins. Thoughts?

    • Jon Loomer

      Hey, Scott. Some have experienced problems like you’re describing. See this post by Ruth Sheahan:

      • Vincent Vizachero

        Both of these reports (Scott Bangs and Ruth Sheahan) have one thing in common: they affect bars.

        My theory is that some (most?) Facebook mobile apps are not written to selectively filter deals based on the age group of the user and so the apps just don’t deliver any deals for places with the type “Bar” in the Facebook profile.

        Anyway, I just set up my first deal (for a place that is NOT a bar) thanks to your instructions. Thanks for this post.

        • Ruth Sheahan

          I’m going to test this out again with another client Vincent. I don’t think this is the case though. I just had a comment on my blog post from someone who has a tanning salon. He says he had the same experience with deals showing up on ipads– not iphones– but only for a few weeks and then it stopped showing on those too.
          I’m going to run another experiment with a cafe, but I really recommend people set the deal up, just in case someone finds it, but then just run it manually. I think check-in deals work best for current customers anyway.

      • Ruth Sheahan

        Thanks Jon, I didn’t even see this!

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  • Michelle

    Deals are not available for Canadian locations either. =(

  • Gretchen Kruysman

    Jon – Looks like Facebook is really pushing Check Ins with the new Mobile interface release. Any updates on their plans for reviving how local businesses can use Cjheck In Deals to push instore traffic?

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  • Kelly Lucia

    I just want to say THANK YOU for explaining how to create check-in specials step by step. After searching through Facebook help for 30 min (which DOES NOT instruct you how to create a check-in deal but tries to subtely encourage you to create an “offer”) I finally google searched and found your article, and created the deal in about 1 min. Facebook should hire you to write their help section.

    • Jon Loomer

      Love it! Happy to help, Kelly!

  • vuong
  • Stephanie

    I can’t seem to get this to work with the new facebook format, any suggestions?

    • Jon Loomer

      There’s a link now when creating an ad for a page post that says “Create New Unpublished Post.”

  • wcbuckner

    Are you positive this still works? I can’t find anything about check-in deals in the Update Page Info section and have read many posts saying that FB check-in deals are dead.

  • Daria Riley

    seems like Check In Deals no longer works.

  • Greg Salyer

    I don’t see any links on the left side when I click edit page. Can I still offer a check-in deal?

  • Paul C. Liu

    Is the check in deal function still available in the U.S. ? I’m trying to set this up but my update screen look different than yours ? Newbie to FB admin, so trying to learn.