User feedback and friends recommendations on sites such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook will generate £750 million worth of retail sales this Christmas, according to new research from the Royal Mail and The Future Foundation.
Their studies have found that the comments left on social networking sites are becoming more influential than old fashioned word of mouth, mainly because of the ability to keep, record, correlate and compare product recommendations made online.
"Seeing something written down gives it added credibility, it hangs around for longer and people are able to compare and corroborate any advice," said James Murphy, editorial director at The Future Foundation.
Companies are now attempting to add flavour to their products to ensure that users will point them out on the social networking sites, adding small gimmicks that make the product just worth mentioning in a positive light when it arrives. "We’ve tried to build it into our business model by doing things to create those conversations, such as delivering our goods in brightly coloured boxes and adding in a free bag of sweets. It gets people talking," Chris Robinson, managing director of e-retailer Firebox.com in an interview with The Guardian.
£750 million is a lot of social networking driven sales, and this number will only increase an internet penetration and the ubiquity of these social networking sites do too.