Facebook users hit 'like,' stores jump into action

More than a gathering place for millions of users, Facebook has become a go-to site for market researchers.

NEW YORK  — Facebook isn't just for goofy cat pictures and virtual water cooler discussions. Facebook users' online opinions help dictate what's in stores this holiday season.

After polling fans on the site, Macy's decided to carry jeans in bright neon hues rather than pastels. And Wal-Mart Stores, for the first time, decided to let customers vote on which toys they want discounted.

The impact of social media on a company's bottom line remains tough to quantify, but it is not a big surprise that stores are uncovering a valuable use for online chatter: Market research.