February 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

Building a new link from online retailing to social networking

Borders Group Inc. is big on promoting interactivity on the web, where shoppers can click through a playful gift finder on BordersGifts.com to get gift recommendations based on someone’s personal characteristics. Now it’s extending interactivity into social networking.

Borders Group Inc. is big on promoting interactivity on the web, where shoppers can click through a playful gift finder on BordersGifts.com to get gift recommendations based on someone’s personal characteristics. Now it’s extending interactivity into social networking.

Last month, the retailer launched a web site with social networking site Gather.com, where Borders’ books, movies and music customers can earn loyalty points good toward purchases or cash by sharing personal content online and participating in online forums.

The new site, Borders.Gather.com, is designed to let Borders shoppers participate in existing discussion groups about particular books and other media, but also to upload personal content such as photos and book reviews or to start their own online book club. The site (which is not tied to the e-commerce site Borders runs on the Amazon.com platform) also links directly to Gather.com, which awards points for participation.

Gather.com values the points at about two cents each, and it uses a system of mathematical algorithms to determine the value of each person’s online participation and award points. “Certain metrics-for example, invitations that recruit new members, plus article views, image views, article and image ratings, comments, and group membership growth-are just some of the activities that help us understand how much value individual members are creating for the community. The more value you provide, the more points you`ll earn,” Gather.com says. Participants that earn $50 worth of points in a single month can redeem them for cash.

“Borders customers can use the power of the Gather.com platform to engage in a new level of social interaction on their shared passion for information and entertainment and their experiences with Borders,” says Borders Group CEO George Jones.

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