April 15, 2011, 3:30 PM

Victoria’s Secret is winning the Facebook popularity contest for e-commerce

The retailer and its Pink brand are the most Liked retailer brands on Facebook.

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Engaging shoppers with videos, photos and special offers seems to be enticing consumers to Like Victoria’s Secret and its Pink brand for young women. The two were the most Liked retail brands on Facebook in March with 12.1 million and 8.4 million followers, respectively, according to the ChannelAdvisor Facebook Commerce Index.

The index tracks the number of Likes gained by each of more than 500 brands at the end of each month.

“Victoria’s Secret is a popular brand that does a lot with Facebook at all its different touch points—catalog, online and in store,” says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, a firm that helps retailers sell through online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay as well as comparison shopping sites. “They’re clearly focused on it.”

It’s hard to say what Likes on Facebook are worth to a retailer, says Wingo. However, those digital marks of approval from online consumers create ambassadors for a retailer’s brand, provide direct feedback from a retailer’s fan base on new products. Moreover, Wingo believes Facebook will develop into an online sales channel within the next three years.

“We don’t know how it will emerge into a channel, but we think there are several different ways it could happen,” he says. “It could be ads, social shopping or something else. Now is the time retailers should be experimenting to figure out how to build a fan base.”

Retailers that successfully entice a large number of followers will enjoy a competitive edge when web merchants figures out how to make significant money from the social network, he says.

Here are the 10 most Liked retail brands on Facebook, with the number of Likes at the end of March, and the month-over-month percentage increase:

• Victoria’s Secret, 12.1 million, 4%

• Victoria’s Secret Pink brand, 8.4 million, 5%

• Adidas Originals, 8.2 million, 15%

• Lacoste, 5.2 million, 11%

• Burberry, 5.1 million, 20%

• WWE, 4.9 million, 9%

•Hollister Co., 4.6 million, 6%

• Wal-Mart, 4.5 million, 23%

• Forever 21, 4.2 million, 3%

• Abercrombie & Fitch, 4.1 million, 7%

Among retailers with more than 100,000 Likes, Build-A-Bear Workshop had the largest percentage increase as its number of followers grew 146.2% to 840,931 from 341,536. That growth was spurred by the retailer, which is No. 493 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, offering special products to Facebook fans, heavily promoting the page on its e-commerce site and e-mails, and giving away $100 gift cards to select followers.

Adidas added 1.1 million new followers, which Wingo attributes to its offering a slew of original content on its Facebook page and using celebrity endorsers such as Katy Perry. Adidas is No. 186 in the Top 500 Guide.

Wingo will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “How does Amazon do it? An in-depth look at e-retailing's pacesetter.” David Fisch, director of business development at Facebook, will speak in a session entitled “What e-retailers need to know about Facebook."

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