Why retailers are experimenting with Facebook

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Many brands are finding that the next frontier in e-commerce is the place where consumers prefer to spend their time online: social networks, such as Facebook. Direct Connect talks with Blake Brysha, senior marketing manager at PowerReviews, about how retailers are taking advantage of consumers' need to interact with others on the Web.

Direct Connect: What are brands' goals when they move into social shopping?

Blake Brysha: It's a number of things. Number one is conversions, of course. People come to us looking for more traffic that comes from word-of-mouth, as well as a better experience on site. They're also coming to us now looking for advice on how to make sense of the social phenomenon and what can they do with Facebook.

DC: Why is Facebook a more attractive space than other social networks for online shopping?

Brysha: Facebook has done a lot of things well. I think a lot of the success comes from the experience it presents. Facebook takes it to another level based on friends and based on the massive data warehouse it has. We are trying to bring that into our products, and lot of them are working off what Facebook is doing and trying to create an automatically relevant experience.

DC: Does social shopping work better for any specific type of retailer? Large or small? Or niche or wide ranging?

Brysha: I think it definitely works better for smaller online retailers because they have customers who are passionate. With Diapers.com, you have mothers who are passionate about their babies. So it does work better for some retailers than for others, absolutely, because they already have devotees and people who are passionate about the products they sell.

DC: Any predictions for next year?

Blysha: This probably won't come as a surprise, but I think Facebook is where people will continue to do a lot of their experimenting. We are building our roadmap around that in a lot of cases, and moving forward with a lot of experiments. I think that in 2010, people started taking the first step with the “like” button, but I think many will try to experiment with their Facebook marketing. I think in 2011, a big theme will be bringing that experience onto their own sites in a number of ways. We see so many retailers experimenting with the like button. In August, we also saw a handful of retailers who saw their Facebook referral traffic trump Google. That was amazing to see, but we companies will bring parts of Facebook onto their sites to present a more socially relevant experience on their websites.

DC: What else do you see happening in the new year?

Blysha: I think it's going to be all about relevancy in 2011. Facebook does a good job, and a lot of retailers will use the data Facebook has. It's the profile of choice on the Internet, and consumers have told us that. So the retailers that are able to use that in a meaningful way are going to be very successful in the next year, and we are building on that premise.

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