LivingSocial, the Facebook breakout that includes Virtual Bookshelf and eight other verticals (music, movies, video games, television shows, restaurants, beer, slopes, iPhone apps), has gone local, hiring a sales rep in both New York and Washington, D.C., to sell special “LivingSocial Deals.” Additional large cities are envisioned in the near future.
The coupon offers are limited to one a day and expire at midnight. They go out to the portion of LivingSocial’s community of 35 million registered users who opt in, either via Facebook, Twitter or to the destination site.
CEO and Cofounder Tim O’Shaughnessy told us he sees the LivingSocial Deals as “a huge opportunity” to market to customers based on their pronounced online preferences,” and to take those preferences offline. “There are a lot of deals that people want to take part in,” he says. The coupon offers include payment processing.
In Washington, which serves as the company’s headquarters, the program has been live for a month. Offers to date have included a variety of services and products, including Restaurant.com-like dining discounts (i.e., “Pay $10 for $35 worth of dining”). It has also sold offers for a local chocolate shop, a cupcakery, D.C. United soccer games, and even a wine-making kit. Spas and hotels are eyed for future offers.
The D.C. launch was accompanied by an aggressive “Free this gorilla” promotion, in which the company promised to free a chained “gorilla” being driven around on a pedicab in the buzzing Georgetown and Dupont Circle areas once the city “saved” $1 million from offers. People could sign up to receive the e-mailed deals.
Happy hour promotions might be next, due to the company’s recent acquisition of Buy Your Friend a Drink, which now provides sponsored drinks in 275 bars across the U.S.