It's that time of year when iTunes - and countless other retailers / merchandisers - publish their "Best of 2011" lists. It's fun to review the lists, particularly when a great merchant / voice crafts them. But the example below of reading through iTunes "Best Music of 2011" list isn't nearly as powerful as it could be. What's missing? A list curated by the merchants I most care about: my friends. Show me what my network bought, listened to and loved. That's most interesting and would ultimately be the highest converting.

Of course that requires Apple to either integrate Facebook Connect (or even less likely, have Ping succeed).

But it's a relevant lesson to those retailers who do in fact integrate Facebook Connect and collect social data. There is great value and intelligence within.... think of it as more than social sharing: it's a merchandising and conversion lever.