February 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Facebook Timeline integration means more social shopping

Facebook is offering software applications designed for consumers who want to share personal information on which products they own and what products they'd like to buy.

Lead Photo

For consumers who want to share personal information on which products they own and what products they'd like to buy, Facebook Inc. has an app to make that easier. In fact, it has about 60.

Facebook calls the tools Apps for Timeline. The social network is offering Timeline itself as an opt-in feature that replaces a Facebook user's Wall and profile with a virtual scrapbook. The scrapbook features a graphical and chronological timeline of events of his life on the social network, as well as other interests that he chooses to share, such as the bands whose concerts he has attended and the clothes he has bought.

The new tools from a variety of companies build on an initial batch of applications that Facebook announced at its developer conference last fall to help consumers share information—for example, the movies and TV shows they're watching on Netflix and the music they are listening to via digital music service Spotify.

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer GiantNerd.com's application enables shoppers to click that they Love, Want or Own a product, in addition to clicking the Like button. "We think it will allow users of GiantNerd to connect to Facebook in a way that is more meaningful," says the company's president, Randall Weidberg, whose official title is nerd in charge.

Beyond Facebook

The applications will also foster more social activity off of Facebook, says Wade Gerten, founder and CEO of social commerce technology company 8thBridge, which developed an application for Ticketmaster. "These tools allow us to add social features to web sites, which is where everyone is shopping, instead of doing so on a Facebook fan page, where not that many people go," he says.

Lou Kerner, social media analyst at the institutional brokerage firm Liquidnet, predicts many merchants and other businesses will develop Facebook applications in time. "Everyone will eventually be there," he says.

The more consumers interact with these apps, the more opportunity marketers will have to present highly relevant ads, Kerner says. "If you're using a jogging app, that is a great app to be advertising Nike shoes. If you're using a music app, a band can advertise for an upcoming concert. The more consumers use apps, the more marketers can know."

A concert promoter, for instance, can know who is listening to what music, and when they are listening to it. "It's a tremendous evolutionary step forward in how information is consumed," Kerner says.



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