Sharestream2 Facebook innovations continue as the popular social media platform tries to maintain its lead over other online destinations. Competition is a healthy motivator based on all of the recent Facebook news, including a redesign, more granular privacy controls and eliminating application notifications.

More recently, Facebook announced eCommerce plans as well as a new ShareThis capability that shows what news is trending on Facebook.

Facebook Starts Selling
According to Silicon Alley Insider:

“As it builds out its own store internally, strikes a deal with online-payment platform PayPal and allows marketers to test e-commerce apps, [Facebook] is starting to look more and more like a giant, global shopping mall.”

Virtual goods are already sold through Facebook and brands including Pampers, The Limited and 1-800-Flowers are already using it to sell products. With more than 400 million Facebook members around the world, other brands are certainly considering turning their fan page into a form of instant gratification.

It will be interesting to see if retailers shift gears from using fan pages to push customers in-store with special coupons and Facebook-only promotions. For now the experience seems best for one-off, impulse buys. Perhaps over time Facebook could be used to create a big enough shopping cart that it will rival eCommerce sales on a retailer’s own site.

Share and Share, You Like?
On the heels of a Pew Internet study showing that more consumers get their news via a social media platform, ShareThis unveils Share Stream. It monitors news being shared on Facebook and organizes it based on popularity. According to TechCrunch:

“The Share Stream can be filtered by trending or real-time topics, by source, by what everyone is sharing, or only by what your friends are sharing.”

ShareThis notes that Facebook is now being used more than email to share news through its network. And the service promises to do the same with Twitter, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, MySpace, Yahoo and MSN in the future.

Data as Content
News sites including CNN have been serving up stories based on popularity for some time now. But seeing what’s hot on a closed network like Facebook is “kind of a big deal.” ShareThis can even give registered users statistics on how news and links they share are being passed along. It’s a great example of using data to create content based on consumer media consumption habits.

Turning data into content is an unrealized opportunity for a majority of brands. An unrelated example can be found on the Zappos site. By taking a small piece of data – the style of shoe purchased and the customer’s state of residence – Zappos has created a real time view of what shoes are being bought across the nation as they’re purchased.

Neither ShareThis nor Zappos are invading user privacy in doing this. But reevaluating a company’s data as potential content is a creative, untapped approach to engaging consumers online.

Cross-posted to my work blog, Social Study.

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