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Facebook: Not Just For Social Networking?

09 March 2010 - 09:25 by Simon Crisp

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Consumers often set out on the net with the express intention of doing some safe shopping online. But increasingly it is while they are engaged with other aspects of online life that they end up making purchases. Take Facebook, for example. Although the site is primarily used for social networking, recently both brands and consumers have noticed its potential application as a driver for eCommerce.

Retailers are already getting involved with branded pages. The range of brands that have their own 'fan pages' on Facebook varies enormously, from everyday products such as Pampers through to luxury brands such as Gucci and clothing brands including Benetton. These fan pages serve a number of purposes. Firstly, they help to advertise new products and events from that brand. But increasingly brands and retailers are discovering that when a consumer becomes a 'fan' of or visits their branded page, not only will they want information but many are also quite happy to start shopping.

Retailers and the major brands are therefore taking advantage of this trend by placing links to sites where consumers can indulge in some safe shopping online. Pampers has already had notable success via its fan page. The brand, owned by Procter & Gamble, added a 'shop now' tab to the page and immediately saw a strong reaction, chalking up around 1,000 sales within the first hour. Researchers from Rice University found that consumers on Facebook will, on average, spend 45 percent more with a business that has taken the time to create a Facebook page.

Whilst there is considerable industry debate as to the return of investment associated with many elements of social media optimisation (SMO), it is clear that there is a growing degree of convergence between social media and mainstream ecommerce, a trend that seems set to continue.