This morning Facebook unveiled a new social discount service called Deals. The service is a direct competitor with other, similar offerings from companies like Groupon and LivingSocial, allowing users to leverage shared interests into securing discounted goods and services.

Facebook has been planning to enter the social buying space for some time, and the company said it has rolled out Deals in five cities, including Austin, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco.

Like Groupon and LivingSocial, Facebook Deals will offer a variety of special promotions from local business partners, like backstage passes to a concert or 30 percent off movie tickets. But because this is Facebook, the deals will be heavily integrated into your experience with the site, meaning you can expect offers to pop up in your regular news feed, for instance. Facebook also said that users could purcase deals using Facebook Credits.

Facebook has been getting into a lot of hot markets with also-ran products of late, introducing Marketplace to challenge Craigslist, Places to compete with Foursquare and Questions to take on Quora. But those features haven't exactly been smash hits and don't seem likely to supplant the competition any time soon. As usual, with Deals Facebook has the added advantage of already being a part of the daily routine of 600 million people.

But whether the service is a runaway success or just another blip on the crowded social discount terrain will likely depend on how effective Facebook's sales team is at securing offers that will get users' attention. Buying things on Facebook is still an unfamiliar experience, something the company is clearly working hard to change.

[Bits Blog]

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