May 29, 2007, 12:00 AM

A new page in marketing to Facebook users

Facebook last week announced it will allow outside application developers, including retailers, to develop features that Facebook users can add to their personal pages. Amazon and some other online merchants quickly jumped on board.

Facebook Inc., the online social network that claims 24 million active users, has announced it will allow retailers and others to develop applications that Facebook users can add to their personal pages if they choose.

Among the first to take advantage of the opportunity was Amazon.com, which developed a feature called Book Reviews that allows a Facebook user to write about a favorite book and display the review on a personal page. Visitors can click on a “buy” button that takes them to Amazon.com to buy the book. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Glimpse.com, an online retailer of women’s fashion and accessories, created a Fashion & Style feature that lets Facebook users point out and comment on their favorite items from among glimpse.com’s more than 250,000 fashion and beauty items. The application can notify the user’s friends of any changes in those listings.

Also on Facebook’s initial list of outside application developers was Blue Nile Inc., No. 49 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Most of the other applications allow Facebook users to share information or photos, such as one that lets users communicate about favorite travel spots, and another for exchanging photos of pets.

Facebook users can add and delete these applications as they choose. Facebook will not allow advertising in the applications themselves, but says the outside developers can make money by selling advertising on their own sites and from the transactions themselves, such as Amazon selling a book to a consumer who gets to Amazon via the Book Reviews feature.

In all, 65 developers announced 85 applications for Facebook at a developers conference the company hosted last week in San Francisco. Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old founder and CEO of Facebook, explained that any applications built with the technology Facebook is offering will be as integrated into the information flow and relationships of Facebook as Facebook’s own applications. “Until now, social networks have been closed networks,” Zuckerberg declared. “Today, we’re going to end that.”

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