Facebook’s E-commerce Move – Another Inch Toward World Domination
[Update, 11 a.m. - It looks like Facebook will need to add human editors to its Marketplace app, as Nicole Lyn Pesce of the New York Daily News reports sellers were offering sex, guns and babies to consumers. Facebook's response to Target Marketing's request for comment Wednesday comes from Mary Ku, Director of Product Management, Facebook: “As we expanded Marketplace access, we encountered a technical issue that prevented our reviewing system from identifying some posts that violated our Commerce Policies and Community Standards. As a result, certain posts with content that violated our policies were made visible to people visiting Marketplace. We are working to fix the problem and will be closely monitoring our systems to ensure we are properly identifying and removing violations before giving more people access to Marketplace. We apologize for this issue.]
Let’s take a look at what’s really interesting for marketers about Facebook’s announcement on Monday about “Marketplace,” its move into local ads — AKA, classifieds.
There’s a school of thought that Craigslist killed the newspaper. Classified ads mattered to the bottom line, and Craigslist wiped out that income. Craigslist, though, didn’t have interesting content to keep consumers on the site — unless prurient interest in the “missed connections” section counts. (It doesn’t.)
Facebook’s News Feed works much the same way as newspaper articles did. The updates users see from friends, family and brands they like keep them on the site. What they’re seeing isn’t news as I learned it in college and grad school, but it’s content that can include news. (I’ll emphasize here that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says the social network isn’t a news organization. Facebook simply shows users what news they’re sharing with their friends and family — in the “trending” section, she said on Tuesday at Advertising Week in New York.)
But Facebook has an advantage over newspapers of yore that marketers love. Consumers can talk about brands and get reviews from friends and family in real-time, and make decisions right there — perhaps with brand feedback. The social media site is a place where consumers and brand representatives hang out, consume content and interact. And that’s an advantage Facebook has over its possible competitors in the classified space. Who’s going to hang out on Craigslist or Angie’s List? (If you do, please let me know why.)
On a personal note, I don’t blame Facebook, Craigslist, Angie’s List or anyone else for what’s happened to newspapers. It was their job to evolve, as many did, and so have I — a former daily newspaper reporter and editor-turned-new media journalist.
That said, here’s how Mary Ku, Facebook’s director of product management, wrote that Marketplace works, in her post Monday on the Facebook Newsroom page:
- Take a photo of your item, or add it from your camera roll
- Enter a product name, description and price
- Confirm your location and select a category
When potential buyers are interested, sellers will receive a DM, Ku says. What happens after that is up to them.
“Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items in Marketplace,” Ku writes.
Facebook also won’t stop sellers from posting simultaneously in Marketplace and in a “buy and sell group,” Ku says.
“To keep track of all of your current and past transactions in Marketplace,” she says, “visit the ‘Your Items’ section. There, you can view your saved items, products you’ve posted for sale, and all your messages with people.”
What Consumers See
Ku says buyers will tap on the “shop” icon to find Marketplace, where they’ll see photos of items for sale near them. They can filter results by location, category or price within “categories such as Household, Electronics and Apparel.”
Facebook users can search in other cities, too, by adjusting the location tool.
When visitors tap on the photo, they’ll see the product descriptions, names and profiles of the sellers, and the sellers’ “general” locations. If they so chose, they can save the items to view later, Ku says.
Buyers can contact sellers via private messages, she says.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.