June 30, 2010, 3:33 PM

Retailers can’t ignore Facebook

Social media sites are part of an integrated marketing approach, says report.

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When consumers spend an average of 7.3 hours online a week on Facebook, they’re not entirely focused on the site—many of them are multitasking, research and consulting firm Morpace Inc. says in new report, “Frequent consumer usage of Facebook provides a marketing opportunity for retailers.”

The report found that 24% of consumers say that when they’re on Facebook they also are either researching products or shopping online. 55% say they are surfing the web while on Facebook.

That means that retailers have a prime opportunity to use Facebook as part of an integrated social marketing strategy to attract consumers and increase both sales and market share, according to the report.

“As consumers continue to be bombarded with marketing messages, it becomes more and more vital for businesses to make their products easily accessible to the consumer who may have a short attention span,” says the report.

The report suggests that by using their Facebook pages to mirror their traditional marketing strategies, retailers can increase visibility and bolster their market penetration. Moreover, using links to a retailer’s web site can help increase online sales.

The report was based on a survey of 1,000 American consumers in May. It was a follow-up to an April survey that found that 68% of consumers with Facebook accounts say a positive referral from a Facebook friend would make them more likely to buy from or visit a retailer. That study also found that 36% of consumers with Facebook accounts say the social networking site is a good tool for researching products.

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