New York Startup Social Amp Turns Facebook Friends into E-commerce Commentators

6/30/11Follow @jpruth

The next time you shop online for gifts and your Facebook friends’ interests appear on the webpage, Social Amp’s technology may be running under the digital hood. Matt Sunbulli, cofounder of the two-year-old New York startup, is on a mission to make e-commerce a more social experience. With a dose of crowdsourcing for shopping suggestions, Social Amp connects elements of Facebook to online purchases.

Social Amp’s applications cull data from consumers’ social circle that pertains to the e-commerce sites they visit. When customers shop at 1800Flowers.com, for example, their friends Likes regarding flowers and other gifts sold by the company appear on the page. That connects the brand’s products to a customer’s social world, Sunbulli says. “We imagined a future where brands wanted to create social experiences on their own sites and not live within a fixed page inside Facebook,” he says.

The idea is to make online shopping more chatty. Consumers, who must first opt in to share certain Facebook data, essentially bring their own crowd along for personalized recommendations on e-commerce purchases. Social Amp, for example, brought these social connections to cosmetics maker Estée Lauder’s Smashbox brand, allowing shoppers on the Smashbox site to see suggestions regarding makeup from friends who also agreed to share their Facebook Likes.

Working with such large clients is helping Social Amp poise itself for growth. The company has a staff of eight part-time and full-timers, and Sunbulli wants to expand the ranks. “I see our team doubling after we close a round of financing,” he says. Thus far Social Amp is self-funded but he says the company is exploring investment opportunities as well as partnerships with e-commerce businesses that could bring the applications to more websites.

Sunbulli says Social Amp currently provides its services to brands such as Levi Strauss & Co., Discover, and Forbes, in addition to Estée Lauder and 1-800-Flowers. Amit Shah, director of online marketing, mobile, and social media for 1-800-Flowers, says … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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