Previously a free service, Facebook is changing the way Offers work for businesses.

Facebook Offers enable local businesses to send discounts and promotions directly to customers through News Feeds. Now, the only free option is to run the Offer on your Facebook Page.

Moving forward, if you want your Offer to run in members’ News Feeds you will have to purchase advertising — specifically Page Post ads. A Page Post ad is used to drive engagement to something you’ve added to your Page (for example, a photo or now, an Offer).

Additionally, businesses taking advantage of Facebook Offers now have the option of including a barcode along with their coupons. Since the program’s launch in May, one of the most requested features from businesses was barcode support.

Barcodes will make it much easier for you to track what deals have been redeemed and when. Monitoring this data could influence the way you approach future deals. This will also make the Offers program more appealing to e-commerce sites. Previously, Facebook added promo codes to deals in hopes of increasing off-site purchases. Barcodes will make it more convenient for businesses as well as customers.

Currently, it’s not clear how Offers are performing. It’s possible that the new advertising catch will deter many smaller businesses from using Offers, at least through a wider distribution model. If you plan to participate, we recommend setting aside a small advertising budget to cover costs.

[Via: TechCrunch, Image credit: Kenny Louie]