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Small Business Digest


Using Social Networking To Sell Products Especially Helpful To Smallest Enterprises

Companies of all sizes, including home-based businesses, now have a new marketing channel.

A Colorado company has merged social networking with specialty sales, a model that can enable even the smallest companies to build storefront with a built-in audience.

The popularity of social networks has grown significantly in recent years. Facebook, for example, has close to 70 million members.  Yet these online venues rarely offer users the ability to conduct transactions. 

With the potential for 70 million Facebook users recommending products they know and like (or love), this is a big opportunity for smaller, mom-and-pop and specialty merchants, many of whom would never have the budget or resources to market to millions of possible customers online.

The issue of utilizing social networks as a marketplace has been debated in business and e-commerce media.  Some argue that this may be a key factor for the long-term survival of social networks since they typically don't survive unless they generate advertising revenue.

One demonstration of the power of social networking as a marketing channel is the launching by bSocial Networks of Market Lodge™ 2.0.  It claims to be the first eCommerce engine for social networks, initially integrated on the Facebook platform.

Market Lodge makes it easy for users to build personalized online stores within profiles in less than five minutes, turning social networks into online “bazaars” with members recommending, buying and selling products. 

Facebook users can recommend products to their online friends and network of contacts, and if the product is purchased, the Market Lodge user receives a 10 percent commission of the completed sale. Other similar services will soon be availabe.

"This is the start of what we like to call "meCommerce," said Sue Spielman, co-funder of

"Users are putting themselves into the driver’s seat on what and how they choose to buy. This is a new trend and an extremely cost-effective sales channel for vendors," she added.

With this offering, any size vendor can tap into this enormous channel, showing products to millions of potential customers as part of a multi-channel retail strategy reinforced by user-generated content – without a huge marketing budget to gain online exposure."

In less than a month more than 4,000 Market Lodges were created on Facebook, and bSocial Networks has received more than 300 vendor requests to join the Market Lodge network. 

This is a very fast adoption cycle and it appears that many small businesses and specialty merchants are eager to increase their online sales through this new social commerce application. 

If a vendor has a Facebook page, he or she can set up their own Market Lodge in about five minutes, then add products to recommend to others.

Social network members also benefit by participating as Market Lodge vendors or suppliers, and as customers.

Market Lodge users can also grow their social networking circle by becoming friends with online “strangers” who share similar category or product interests.  And it's different than eBay, Amazon and other eCommerce sites since the seller does not have to inventory and fulfill orders. 

The merchant who offers its goods ships these online orders that would have never materialized unless a Market Lodge participant would have recommended their product.

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