Facebook, Bebo et al boost online retail

Social networks and other online community activities are driving more and more people to make purchases over the internet, a new study indicates. Research by JC Williams Group and sponsored by Visa and Yahoo Canada found that more online buyers use networking tools to share opinions and insights than those who tend to buy offline. When the rapid rise of websites such as Bebo, Facebook and Flickr is considered, this is good news for internet advertisers - more shared experiences mean that more people will buy their goods. Compared to those web users who do not shop online, web buyers in the study were more than twice as likely to have written a product review and twice as likely to have posted video content to the internet. "Consumers are increasingly turning to their online community or network for advice instead of traditional mass media," said JC Williams Group's Jim Okamura. "It is indicative of the shift to an empowered consumer and the rapid fragmentation of media channels. It definitely presents a challenge for online marketers." Yahoo's Hunter Madsen pointed out that marketers are likely to find some of their most responsive shoppers at social networking sites. Source: Direct Traffic

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