Facebook has evolved far beyond a digital hangout platform crowded your friends. Buying and selling–albeit informally–sprung up on the social media platform long ago. It began with simple statuses advertising concert tickets or old furniture for sale. Facebook Groups devoted to selling have now become common, where more than 450 million people visit to buy and sell each month. Facebook finally codified it all this Monday when it announced the launch of Facebook Marketplace, a new feature and standalone app that facilitates buying and selling between peers. Integration with Facebook Messenger lets people bargain or arrange a meet-up. In short, it allows members of a community to meet, discover, buy and sell items within the community.
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How Does Facebook Marketplace Work?
It’s as easy as any other typical buying-selling mobile app. It works in four steps.
You have to tap on the shop icon at the bottom of the Facebook app to begin exploring with Marketplace.
The opening screen of Facebook Marketplace displays photos of items for sale by people who live in a user-defined geographic area. You can sharpen your research by filtering your results by location, category or price. With the help of a built-in location tool, you can decide in which region you want to focus.
If something of your choice catches your eyes, by tapping on the product images you can know more about the product and the seller including a product description, the name and profile photo of the seller, and their general location. Besides, you can also save the item to find it later if you don’t want to buy it right now.
Once you have made up your mind about buying it, you can send a direct message to the seller through Marketplace to tell them you’re interested and make an offer. The role of Facebook Markplace ends there. It is not responsible for payment or delivery.
If you want to sell on Facebook Marketplace, all you have to do is…
- Take a photo of your item
- Enter a product name, description, and price
- Confirm your location and select a category
The important thing to note here is that you can maintain a close eye on all of your transactions. In the Items section, you can view your saved items, products you’ve posted for sale, and all of your messages.
While this sounds very convenient for people looking to set up a digital garage sale or score concert tickets, why is Facebook doing this? And, why should marketers care?
A) Spontaneous Shopping:
The number of people who use Facebook and its Messenger service is high, and these users spend tons of time on these platforms. Nobody goes on Facebook deliberately to shop, but then again nobody goes on Facebook deliberately to see videos either. They end up watching them because the feed intelligently inserts them. If people suddenly stumble upon a product that they may like, they may buy it. That’s why Bowen Pan, Facebook Marketplace product manager, compares the experience of Marketplace shopping with the offline shopping behavior of going to a Sunday market or to the mall. You might not know the items you want, but you’re open to seeing them. In a nutshell, Facebook Marketplace can do to shopping what Facebook did with video consumption: make it utterly spontaneous!
This may have a strong spillover effect for mid-size and enterprise retailers. If users get habituated to shopping or browsing on Facebook through Marketplace, it’s probable that they’ll become more responsive to ads from bigger sellers.
B) Competitive Edge:
Craigslist and eBay have a strong hold on community buying and selling. Through Marketplace, Facebook will be in a position to threaten their dominance. A few of its features or benefits have been clearly developed by keeping in mind the weaknesses of both the competitors–Craigslist’s specifically. With buying and selling on Craigslist, you never know with whom you are involved in talks due to its anonymous nature. Buyers and sellers on Craigslist know little about each other, and thus there’s a trust deficit. In other words, Craigslist sellers have partially earned their sketchy reputation!. But that problem will be ironed out with Facebook Marketplace as this app is related to your Facebook profile.
As ABI’s principal analyst Michael Inouye said, “Sellers are going to feel compelled to be more honest and forthright, because their activity is attached to their account. You don’t want your friends to see that you’ve been doing bad, shady things.” Moreover, it will also give Facebook direct access into mobile commerce, which is growing more quickly than e-commerce as a whole.
We have always believed in the fact that no feature or app will come into existence in the landscape of social media without the ulterior motive of monetization. Facebook Marketplace is certainly no exception. The calculation here is very simple. The greater the number of users of this app, more will be the possibility of exposure to its revenue-generating ads.
Similarly, through Marketplace, Facebook will be collecting very granular information about their users–what kinds of products are getting sold quickly, what types of offers are making people buy, which process affects their buying behavior and much more. Facebook will certainly use it as an input in deciding its future customer targeting strategy. If we are talking about the possibility of immediate monetization of Marketplace, Facebook can generate revenue by selling News Feed ads or sponsored placements to businesses.
Less Positive Aspects
Just like every app, Facebook Marketplace also has some drawbacks. There is no way that the buyer and seller can rate each other, which might have kept control on their irresponsible or unethical behavior. Another significant negative is unlike Craigslist, Marketplace user’s buying experience will be interrupted by Facebook ads.
Even though Bowen Pan has said that nobody is allowed to sell guns, adult services, or other illegal things on Marketplace and strict action will be taken against those who will try to do it, an incident already exposed the vulnerability of Marketplace’s security level. Even a royal python was put up for sale!
Facebook immediately came up with an explanation that some technical glitch has caused this listing and it is working to fix the problem by closely monitoring its systems to ensure the proper identifying of the items before giving access to Marketplace. But before rolling it out worldwide (it is beginning with the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand), Facebook will surely make sure that such problems will be nipped in the bud!
To Wrap It Up:
The unambiguous reading from Facebook Marketplace is quite clear- Facebook wants its dominance to spread to all possible verticals and solutions. It wants to become a platform for everything that happens digitally. Nobody can be absolutely sure about its success, but in this war of dominance, customers are going to be benefited. We can be sure about it!
Note: In this blog also we have discussed two other new Facebook marketing capabilities–product tagging and Stories for Messenger. We always keep a close watch on each and every happening in the social media world. To know which new targeting tools Snapchat has added in its arsenal, have a glance at this blog. Similarly, to get acquainted with the recent Instagram updates, this blog is a must read.