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For those who don’t know, the quartely Compete US shopper intelligence study provides a wealth of, well, shopper intelligence.

Data from last year’s 2009 Shopper Intelligence study Q3 created something of a stir – suggesting that people rarely used social networks to connect with retailers or as a shopping tool – 63% never visited retailer Facebook pages (70% never connected via Twitter).  When people did visit Facebook pages, it was overwhelmingly to keep up to date on sales and promotions.

Fast forward a year – and the picture has changed; the latest (q2 2010) Shopper Intelligence study shows – in addition to the headline finding that 83% of US consumers shop online at least once a week – that the proportion of checking out Facebook fan pages or Twitter feeds of retailers has almost doubled since Q3 2009 – up to 31%.

Nevertheless, Compete’s Q3 09 recommendation – holds strong – the secret to a successful Facebook page is simple:

“Give them a highly compelling reason to visit: provide shoppers with discount information”

If branding is the art of increasing your ability to take margin, then few brand marketers will be happy to hear this.  The alternative Facebook strategy of course is to harness the platform to deliver user experiences that add value to the brand. In the context of social commerce – we think event shopping (VIP access, limited editions, live shopping) holds promise.