Market Intelligence provider Hitwise have provided evidence that social network sites can be a profitable source of footfall for retail sites.
Their March newsletter revealed that Digg.com was the fastest growing website year-on-year in 2007. The news & media site, where the community members vote for the most popular articles, came from no-where (relatively) to take the #1 spot in the IT Media category. It was also #32 in News and Media which must really have shook some of the more traditional news websites.
The other social media success story lies behind the visitor traffic to TopShop.co.uk and ASOS.com. They received twice as much traffic from Myspace than from MSN & Yahoo! combined for the week ending February. That must represent a massive shift in the sources of their referring traffic.
Both sites have an active presence on Myspace.com, I've checked and as expected...not quite my bag. Interestingly Hitwise can demonstrate that their competitors are not enjoying the same uplift from Myspace despite their audience demographic being indentical.
Unfortunately Hitwise can't tell us if that traffic is converting into sales, yet, but somewhere along the line they will feel the positive effect from their engagement.
So now you know.