October 10, 2012, 9:29 AM — Facebook is testing a new feature dubbed "collections" that lets users create wish lists of products by clicking on "want" or "collect" buttons.
Some test pages sport a "collect" button, which lets users save an item to a collection called "products" and allows a user's friends to see the activity in their news feeds--similar to the way users can see which pages their friends "like." Other test pages display a want or like button to do the same thing, visible within the news feeds of friends of friends. All three buttons add the chosen items to the user's Timeline as part of a new "products" section.
At this point, the features reflect how Pinterest works; the collectable items are mostly photographs found on the Facebook pages of a chosen handful of test brands.
Currently, only the Facebook pages of Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria's Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and Fab.com support collections. If you want to see the new buttons in action, you'll have to like one of those pages, then find a photo there of a product it sells, such as one of these Smith Optics images.
The want button, if adopted permanently, could drive a lot of traffic to brands on Facebook and encourage impulse purchases. Facebook, however, should fine-tune the rate at which collections items appear in users' news feeds so that people don't feel spammed by updates.
Facebook doesn't take a cut of collection sales, at least not at this stage of testing: selecting a "wishlist" product sends you to the appropriate page on the brand's website, where you can then buy the product. Don't be shocked to see all of this serve as the vanguard for a complimentary service Facebook plans on introducing soon: gifts, which lets users buy presents for their Facebook friends. Collections, for instance, could help you hunt for gifts for specific friends.
Items you collect appear on your Timeline under Products.Items you collect appear on your Timeline under Products.
If Facebook decides to make collections and gifts permanent, think of the duo as an always-there, constantly updated gift registry for everyone on the billion-strong social network. Before long, when measuring your company's success on Facebook, the value of a like may take a back seat to the hard value of a sale.