Companies are taking advantage of the crowds on Facebook to increase the number of their “fans.” Contests and ads try to increase traffic and impressions of their products. Recently, even Amazon created its first storefront on Facebook, so users did not have to leave the social networking site to shop for products.

For example, for its Pampers diapers, Proctor & Gamble has gotten a great response from its Facebook site, where it sells a 1000-pack of Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max in response to a comment on its fan page. Now that P&G has launched a Facebook shop on Amazon, other retailers are likely to follow. Online shopping also is a social experience; users review products, offer recommendations, create wish lists, and look over the content their friends are browsing. Thus, 86 percent of the top retailers and consumer goods manufacturers plan to launch a social commerce strategy by 2011. And in the United States, Internet users spend more time on Facebook than on Google—specifically, 41 billion minutes on Facebook versus 39.8 billion minutes on Google.

Facebook benefits retailers that want to excite their customers about new products, promotions, and events, as well as redirect fans to a Web site or retail option. But do users really want to shop on Facebook? Or would they prefer that it stay a pure social platform for fun interactions? Some retailers can make transactions part of a fun interaction, but just recreating a retail store experience is probably not what most Facebook users seek.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is social shopping?

2. What do you think about Facebook stores?

Tom Ryan, “Social Shopping Ready for Liftoff,” Retail Wire, October 4, 2010.