Yesterday Facebook introduced Deals allowing local businesses a self-service system of giving discounts to their fans and to anyone who checks in to their location. This gives consumers instant access to deals for their favorite shops as well as attracting them to new boutiques.

How does it work?

You can simply fire up Facebook for I-Phone or you can go to touch.facebook.comto access Places. From there you can search for places of interest around your immediate location and let people know where you are by checking in. If a place is not listed you can also create it with ease. Additionally, your check-ins are posted as status updates for all your friends to see.

On Deals you can choose from four types of promotions and give you total control of how customers can redeem these specials. What’s super surprising is that you can set up these deals for free.

The introduction of Deals shows that Facebook is ready to go toe-to-toe with Foursquare and further rolls the ball on giving businesses their own power to advertise. This also gives another tool for small businesses to compete by immediately offering discounts the larger companies can’t match.

What I love about this development is that shops, restaurants and boutiques could enter the social space without the pressure of maintaining a Facebook Fan Page. While there needs to be strong strategy behind these promotions, Deals could be a stand alone option or an incredible complimentary asset to their social media campaign.

I am also waiting for the time when people are giving silly discounts when someone checks in to their kitchen.