Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and a recent New York Times blog quantified that value for several brands.  In one example, every Ticketmaster purchase that was shared on Facebook resulted in an additional $5.30 spent by friends on Ticketmaster.com.

Recommendation-into-purchase conversion validates the value of Facebook for brands as a marketing channel: friends’ recommendations have the most influence on purchase decisions and the average Facebook user has 130 friends.

The goal is to get fans telling friends about where they are, what they’ve bought or what experience they’ve just had.  Brands need to make it easy for social expression in order to create word-of-mouth, thus turning fans’ friends into fans and ultimately, customers.

Social-savvy brands are capitalizing on word-of-mouth by adding social components to their e-commerce sites, including “Like” buttons and “share” features for purchases and reviews, and encouraging engagement through Facebook promotions and interactive experiences.

What’s more, once a Facebook user “Likes” a specific product, a brand can deliver relevant messaging to that community of “Likes” through the News Feed.

Another opportunity for fans’ interactions to influence friends through social media is in the store.  A recent article on MediaPost states that one-quarter of customers share their shopping experiences online through smartphones while they are in the physical stores.  Charlotte Russe, a specialty retailer of fashionable, value-priced apparel and accessories for teens and young women, placed in-store banners to remind shoppers to connect with them on Facebook.  Create a Place Page for your brick-and-mortar stores; location-based check-ins are also an easy way fans can share brand affinity with friends.

The Context Optional Social Marketing Suite enables brands to engage fans and their friends with cross channel promotions that drive to a commerce event, including catalogs and coupons that can be redeemed in stores or online.  Through our Publisher module of the Suite, you can target messages to “Likes” from the Open Graph and Places Pages. Finally, our Check-In Leaderboard Suite add-on product can tie check-ins to loyalty points, unique offers or giveaways to encourage in-store check-ins.