Adding fuel to the fire that "Facebook Privacy" is an oxymoron, a tool built with Facebook's own API lets you search Facebook status updates. Though Openbook is intended for entertainment purposes and public awareness about the insecurity of your Facebook information, it can also be used as a social media monitoring tool for businesses.
Facebookers Talk About Retailers and Brands
I ran through a few searches for top online retailers and found Facebookers are quite chatty about companies. For example, Office Depot and Newegg:
I was surprised at how many Facebookers were updating their statuses with their shopping experiences, positive and negative.
Facebook Users Are Influenced By Word of Mouth
A recent survey by Morpace, Facebook's Impact on Retailers (PDF) reveals that consumers do like to evangelize products and businesses with their friends on Facebook. The study found 68% of Facebook users would be more likely to try a product or visit a retailer when a friend has made a positive recommendation.
Facebook Status Campaign?
I spotted a few Facebookers sharing Diapers.com promo codes in their Facebook statuses. I'm not sure if these are affiliates or if Diapers.com is doing a customer campaign - but asking customer to share coupon codes is a good idea, given that recommendations from friends carry so much influence. Retailers with loyalty programs may be able to offer kickbacks to customers based on how much business they refer.
They may have more influence on customers than affiliates, and offering credits toward future purchases rather than commissions to affiliates may also be more profitable.
Other creative ways you can encourage your customers to "share the love" about your company or products is ask them to post links to their wish list/registry, "Like" your products or join your Fan Page. The Morpace study found that the average Facebook user is a fan of 9 Pages, and the number one reason for joining Fan Pages is to let friends know what products they support.
Did you know Get Elastic just launched a Fan Page?
Like monitoring Twitter and other mentions of your company on the web (through services like Google Alerts), you should be keeping tabs on what folks are saying in Facebook as part of your social media monitoring efforts. You can use this information to identify problems with your service, gauge customer sentiment about your brand, develop customer personas and measure the success of social media marketing campaigns (like "share this coupon with friends").
Hat tip to Marketing Pilgrim for noticing Openbook