Merchants and other small businesses will soon have a way to boost customer relations and enhance their brand visibility by offering free Internet access via the company Facebook page.

[CES] Netgear increases consumer engagement with SMEs


Offering WiFi is a good strategy to attract consumers in small businesses. But it may prove to be a real investment for small and micro businesses. Netgear, a California-based company which designs, develops and markets innovative networking products for home users and small businesses worldwide, has teamed up with Facebook to provide small businesses with the option of giving their customers free Internet access in exchange for checking in at the company’s Facebook page. The agreement was announced on 6 January at the CES 2014 event taking place in Las Vegas. Netgear plans to make the Facebook Wi-Fi login available on its premium line of next-generation wireless routers supporting dual- band 802.11ac wireless.

A direct access to the company Facebook page

When a merchant’s customer coming into the business premises first connects to the Netgear router’s wireless signal, s/he will be automatically directed to the merchant’s company Facebook page and invited to ‘like’ the page as a pre-requisite for being able to surf the Internet free of charge. No special codes are needed and the customer will have the option of automatically checking in for free WiFi connection on subsequent visits. This means the business in question can continue to reach out to its customers with future posts, announcements, coupons and other news. Businesses can also highlight special promotions on their Facebook page so that the offer will be the first thing the customer sees when s/he checks in. Meanwhile, the merchant still retains the option of offering its customers the choice of connecting without having to go via Facebook, with a code – either paid-for or free of charge – provided by the company.

Better brand visibility and customer engagement

By inviting customers to ‘like’ the company page in order to obtain free Internet access, this system encourages them to engage more closely with the business whose premises they are visiting and take an interest in the information which it posts. Netgear and Facebook are talking up this partnership as a convenient way for businesses to build a closer relationship with customers. They will not only be able to share offers and announcements directly from their Facebook page but also gain access to their customers’ Facebook profiles. Various small businesses such as cafes, book stores and barber’s shops have been providing WiFi for the convenience of their clientele for a number of years. Facebook Wi-Fi login will enable merchants to take greater advantage of a service which they are already offering. The idea is that they will forge a stronger bond with the customer and enhance brand visibility with each check-in that appears in the Facebook newsfeed. Netgear is planning to roll out this system of Internet access via Facebook in the coming months.

By Manon Garnier