Facebook Deals  launched in Europe today after an initial launch in the U.S. last November, and the Italian clothing company, Benetton, is one of the first participants, along with their chosen charity, Architecture for Humanity .
The way Facebook Deals works is simple--a customer "checks in" to a place via Facebook and claims a deal, whether that place is a restaurant, clothing store, or other type of retailer. “With the announcement of Deals, we’re moving the conversation from the web to the store by linking online conversations to offline foot traffic. And because people see what their friends do on Facebook, Deals helps businesses become even more social as people will see deals through the people who matter most--their friends,” said Joanna Shields, VP EMEA, Facebook.
But Benetton has taken it a step further than just increasing foot traffic--they've turned the arrival of Facebook Deals in Europe into a cause marketing opportunity. Every time someone checks into one of their participating stores, two Euros are donated to Architecture for Humanity's Slums Information Development and Resource Centres (SIDAREC) in Nairobi, Kenya, to help build a media and technology center for low-income youth.
Benetton already has a global reach in untraditional markets, including in Nairobi, and the partnership may also help increase foot traffic in the country as a whole should Benetton expand throughout Kenya. The company's community involvement is sure to make an imprint on the minds of local residents, as most corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns are intended to do, explicitly or not.
As for Facebook Deals, the expansion to Europe is the first international expansion and includes Italy, France, Germany, the U.K., and Spain.
"The wisdom of friends has taken over from the wisdom of crowds, through a highly personal experience in the real world, and Facebook local enables users to take that Facebook identity out and about with them as they experience the real world–likewise using that to inform that Facebook identity," Emily White, Facebook's director of local , told the Guardian. "Places is the 'where' to 'what am I doing' and 'who am I with.' And it allows businesses to start joining the conversation."
Follow me, Jenara Nerenberg, on Twitter .
[Image: Flickr user Ricardo Ricote ]