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ShopLocal announced today that it will integrate social tools that allow users to establish an identity and share info and commentary on products. This is an interesting step for ShopLocal, which has already been known for some clever marketing tactics, particularly with viral video.

The social tools specifically will let users create a profile, view product reviews, and join discussion forums on local products and promotions. Part of this will include personalizing an account where users can save and share deals they’ve found, track prices on certain products, and set up e-mail alerts.

This makes the site part CNET, part Yelp and part Craigslist, among other things. Its success, however, will hinge upon how well this resonates with its current user base (the core demo of which I am unaware but will try to find out) or how well it can attract new, possibly younger, users. The value of any social media outlet, like many other things, is tied to the principles of the network effect.

Regardless, it could be a valuable addition or user retention tool for the ShopLocal product, which is one of the handful of increasingly important sites that focus on driving offline conversions with online search and information. The realization that most conversions happen offline while an increasing amount of product research happens online has led to a growth in development, investment and attention around these businesses.

Others include Krillion, NearbyNow and StepUp. For these, similar social media integration could apply in different ways and represent an area of development. NearbyNow has already gotten started.

Read ShopLocal’s press release here.

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