A new study says 99% of US Online Retailers are planning to have Facebook Fan Pages, and 91% are planning to have Twitter accounts. Theoretically this is to both build a fan base and keep in touch with their customers about upcoming products and sales.
I've always seen the attempt to build "fans" around a retail outlet rather disingenuous. Consumers generally shop at one retailer or another because of low prices and convenience. I imagine there is generally no one who are actual fans of retailers, outside of Sharper Image/Brookstone gadget enthusiasts. I'm sure this massive move to online representation will separate retailers along those two lines: those who see this as a real opportunity to give their customers the information they need, and those who use this to attempt building an imaginary retailer fan base.