Ever feel clueless about what to buy someone as a gift? Or perhaps you just want to make sure you stay on top of the books and movies your acquaintances like, so you'll have something to talk about to break the ice the next time you get together? Amazon has tapped into a new way of getting that information for you: Facebook.
Thanks to a new feature from Amazon, you can now connect your Amazon account with your Facebook account, and pull across information about what you and your friends have "liked" on the social network to help drive recommendations and suggestions from the online store. Depending on how many of your friends and family do the same, this feature could make finding that appropriate gift or staying on top of what's hot among your friends all that much easier. It could also make for a whole new level of creepy detail about your preferences that you might not have expected.
Amazon pioneered the "preference" engine, tracking the connections between what customers buy. The online store offers recommendations based on those connections, telling shoppers what others who looked at a product bought, other things those people also bought, and which things have been frequently bought together.
Now, if you connect your Amazon account to your Facebook account, Amazon can make the suggestions more personal, drawing on information about what your friends have bought or have liked, and on information about what you've put in your profile about your favorite books, music, movies, television shows and other interests and activities. It can even tell you which friends have birthdays coming up, and make gift suggestions for them.
For example, based on my Facebook connection, I found that 16 of my friends like the Beatles Stereo Box Set, 12 like the Star Wars Trilogy, 4 like To Kill A Mockingbird, and 16 like U2's No Line on the Horizon. And based on my favorite books from Facebook, Amazon made a number of suggestions that beat my current Amazon profile's hit rate for preferences (since that account is littered with purchases for my wife and daughter).
All of this may make you feel like Amazon is Facebook-stalking you. But that's okay, considering the upside, say the folks at Mashable:
For some people, we can see how one website's knowledge of your activity on another site — and, because of Facebook's reach, across the entire web — might come across as slightly creepy. However, when you boil it all down to ones and zeroes, it's a great way for commercial entities to take advantage of this huge silo of information that Facebook has about you, your personality, your friends and much more. And because it helps you, the user, discover and interact more with the things you like, it's one of those rare win-win scenarios wherein the consumer gets as much benefit as the corporation.
Amazon has been making other moves into social shopping. Back in June, Amazon bought the deal-of-the-day social shopping site, Woot! But while Woot! will help you find t-shirts with street cred for your teen or college-age children, the Facebook feature will help you finally figure out music gifts for them that they won't want to return this Christmas.