September 17, 2010, 3:06 PM

Facebook meets customer reviews

A new service lets e-retailers use shoppers’ Facebook profiles to help sell products.

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Retailers have for months been able to place the Facebook ‘Like’ buttons on product pages so shoppers can show their Facebook friends their love for a product. Now a new service enables retailers to import data from consumers’ Facebook profiles to their retail sites. 

The tool enables shoppers who opt in to integrate such Facebook profile data as location and photos into their reviews and their reviewer profiles on e-commerce sites. Diapers.com, Campmor and Abe’s of Maine all have begun using some of the features of the new application from ratings and reviews vendor PowerReviews Inc. Diapers.com is No. 85 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Campmore is No. 296.

Most Facebook tools on retail sites allow shoppers only to push information to Facebook, PowerReview says. This tool, however, brings Facebook information to the e-retailer, enabling a shopper reading a review to learn more about a reviewer without leaving the retail site.  

Shoppers also can post their reviews to Facebook using technology from PowerReviews. The reviews will appear on consumers’ Facebook Wall as well as in their friends’ newsfeeds. Reviews posted on Facebook also now include a product picture, the number of stars the product received, a snippet of text from the review, and a link back to the merchant’s product page.

Other new Facebook services from the vendor enable retailers to group together and show the history of reviews written by a Facebook user; ask reviewers if they want to make a comment about a product on Facebook after they have written a review; and ask shoppers if they would like to post a comment about their review to their Facebook newsfeed.

“We’re moving to a world where user-generated content needs to be able to move freely in all directions, and we continue to innovate based on this principle,” says Pehr Luedtke, CEO of PowerReviews. “Our Facebook integration is a prime example of the power of the Open Graph. We are leveraging the world’s largest social network to benefit our retailers and brands, enabling them to use customer-generated content in a way that drives consumer loyalty, and ultimately, sales.”

Facebook’s Open Graph is a series of plug-ins that retailers and other sites can use to weave the social network throughout their sites, such as Facebook’s Like button. The information is then shared both on the retailer’s site and the social network.

A recent report from digital marketing firm OneUpWeb suggests features such as PowerReviews’ that leverage Facebook’s Open Graph could transform the way companies advertise. The report, “The Facebook Fallacy: Open Graph=Google Killer,” says that by gathering data from both within its site and the broader web, Facebook can present a consumer with more accurately targeted ads.

For example, if a Diapers.com shopper shares her review of a high chair on Facebook, Facebook assumes she is a mother of a young child. That information plus the consumer’s Facebook profile information—which often includes likes and interests—can pack a powerful advertising punch. Not only can a Facebook advertiser reasonably predict that a consumer is a mother of a young child, it also could know that she is an accountant, a runner and loves pizza.

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