With businesses investing significant financial and human resources into building online and social media presences, particularly a Facebook presence, the question remains as to how it can be turned into an effective sales channel and no longer just a platform to engage with fans.

One way of doing this is to enable businesses to buy products directly from a Facebook fan page. Research by Compete.com found that 68% of people who become fans of retail pages do so to keep abreast with promotions and sales. Surely the logical step then is to allow them to purchase products from these pages. Some businesses have found overall online sales increase by as much as one fifth (20%) via their Facebook stores.

The argument for a genuine social commerce strategy on Facebook for businesses is growing at an exponential rate. By adding a ‘shop’ tab to a business page, businesses are not even required to register a website or even for customers to accept an application to shop in the store.

Facebook continues to rise in popularity and is now the most visited website, after over taking Google in late 2010. Research suggests that the average user spends 14 minutes on Facebook everyday. It is only a matter of time before the shopping side of the website is developed and fully utilised.

Many experts are expecting social commerce to be a key revenue driver for businesses selling online in 2011.

Mike Murphy, Vice President of Global Sales for Facebook, commented “ There’s a lot of page-building happening with the functionality to allow shopping inside Facebook.”

Christine Baldwell, a leading analyst at Ovum added, “it definitely shouldn’t be regarded as a fad… social commerce offers good sales potential in 2011 and will be the big story in retail technology.”

It will be interesting to see if the experts are right, history shows they usually are so this time next year Facebook might also be the biggest sales platform aswell as the world’s most visited website.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com