March 28, 2012, 11:16 AM

Social sharing helps consumers find products

62% of avid online shoppers read product-related comments from Facebook friends.

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Avid online shoppers are turning to Facebook to learn about products that they might buy, according to a new report from social commerce vendor Sociable Labs.

The report, which examined the habits of consumers who log in to Facebook at least once a month and who buy online at least quarterly, found that 62% of those shoppers read product-related comments posted by their friends on the social network.

Those comments are helping shoppers learn about products. 48% of shoppers say that social sharing helps them find information about products, virtually tied with the 49% who seek such information via Google search, and outpacing online ads (23%) and marketing e-mails (17%). “Consumers trust their friends’ opinions,” says Darby Williams, Sociable Labs vice president of marketing.

That may help explain why 75% of those who read the comments on Facebook have then clicked through to the retailer’s web site.

Moreover, 53% of the consumers who click through to the retailer’s web site buy the item that was shared. And, of those who made the purchase, 81% are avid sharers of product information, which Sociable Labs defines as those who share twice as often as other consumers.

“The people who are acquired via sharing are very valuable,” says Williams. “Because they’re more likely to share information themselves, getting one person to share can create a virtual sharing loop.”

The report found that 38% of avid online shoppers have posted comments about products they have purchased and 56% have clicked on the Like button to endorse a product.

Following are the primary motivations behind consumers’ sharing information on Facebook, with the percentage that cited the explanation:

• Share news of a deal, 41%

• Explain the reason for choosing a particular product, 26%

• Express pride in a purchase, 14%

• Solicit friends’ opinions on a purchase, 8%

• Share plans for using products, 3%

•Other, 8%

The report is based on a survey of 1,088 consumers conducted in January and February.

At the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012, Tom Funk, senior e-commerce manager, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Jason John, senior director, marketing, Gilt Groupe, will speak in a session entitled “The many flavors of a social strategy: What will work for you?” The IRCE $200 early-bird discount expires March 31.

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