One of Facebook’s hidden gems is the Marketplace. It’s currently mobile-only, which means you only see it if you’re on the Android or iOS app [UPDATE: as of August 2017 it’s now available on the website too!] I prefer it to eBay because there’s no cost involved and no hoops to jump through in order to buy or sell, and it’s preferable to Gumtree because buyers use their own Facebook profiles, which makes the problem of dealing with complete strangers slightly better because, well… Facebook.
Actually there are two kinds of Marketplace: the actual Marketplace feature, and private buy-and-sell groups set up by individuals. Marketplace gets you a bigger audience, but individual groups offer useful benefits such as being geographically constrained (local area groups), or enthusiasts groups for specific hobbies, product types (e.g. car groups) or the ever-popular mothers’ groups.
Selling is where it gets interesting. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways of clearing out unused or unwanted items with the least amount of fuss – people pay you cash and pick it up, how much easier can it get? Here are some tips for Marketplace selling success:
- One item per post: it can be tempting to post multiple items in one post, especially if your group imposes a limit on the number of posts you can make, but keeping your items separate makes it a lot easier for buyers because they don’t have to specify which item they’re buying in the comments, reducing the possibility for confusion. It also means that when individual items get sold, you don’t have to keep updating the post, or dealing with “is this still available” messages.
- Photos: unlike eBay, Gumtree and the like, Facebook imposes no constraints on how many pictures you can post, nor charges for them, so provide as many good, useful photos as necessary to show off the item. An item can sell itself with some good photos.
- Be patient: if like me, you have a Pavlovian need to immediately respond to messages as soon as you hear the “ding” notification, try to refrain. In the Marketplace, where buyers can’t see each other’s comments, waiting until you receive a few offers before responding gives you the luxury of choosing your buyer. This could mean a better price, a quicker sale, or simply a nicer buyer.
- Be safe: don’t forget that Marketplaces and Groups are publicly visible, so don’t put any personal details in your posts. That means only listing the pickup suburb (some prefer postcodes, as these can be even more vague when several suburbs share the same postcode) – you can provide the address only to the buyer via private messaging. You should also make sure that there’s no personally identifying information in the photos that you take (e.g. if you’re that way include, making sure that your kids don’t appear in the photos – fortunately, Facebook strips out any GPS location and other information -EXIF for you nerdy types – from the images you upload).
Buying stuff is easy: just browse and buy, or set up a search to notify you when listings with certain keywords are posted. Some common abbreviations you might see used in buy-and-sell groups:
- F: Follow
Sometimes people just want to keep track of an item, by receiving notifications whenever offers or comments are made.
- LEW or LOOP: Listed Elsewhere or Listed On Other Pages
This is especially important if you’re using the Marketplace functionality to cross-post your item to multiple groups. This lets buyers know that you may have received an offer on another group, so you can protect yourself against buyers claiming that they’re the entitled buyer.
- NIL: Next In Line
When somebody’s late to the party, they may comment NIL in the hope that the sale to the winner falls through, in which case the right to buy the item passes along to them.
- PM: Private Message
The bidder is indicating that they have sent you a direct message through Messenger. Depending on your Privacy settings, you may have to go through your contacts list to grant them permission to contact you before you will see their message, hence why some people will mention it in the post, to remind you to check.
If you have any tips of your own on how to get the most out of Facebook Marketplace, post in the comments!