Social networking is now the most popular Internet activity. According to Hitwise, visits to social networking sites now account for more than 13% of all Internet traffic.
As this activity has grown, social networks have become an increasingly important source of traffic for major retailers - year on year figures indicate a 37% increase in upstream traffic. Beyond the traffic flow, there also seems to be a measurable degree of intent. Hitwise conducted an analysis of internal searches on Facebook during the '09 holiday season finding that over 2% of the traffic to Facebook (that's 2% of 132 Million according to Compete.com) visited a website in the Retail 500 immediately after. Retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Bath & Body Works (and others) all appeared within the internal searches taking place on Facebook signifying that consumers were actively seeking their content and offerings.
There have been some early attempts to preempt the normal (flawed) conversion circuit by enabling social networkers to purchase directly from their pages (Resource Interactrive for The Limited for example). Expect to see a serious push in this area during 2010.