Facebook has almost over a billion daily active users and almost two billion more users who are active on the popular social media site each month. If you have a small business, this is potentially one of the most lucrative marketing channels you’ll have access to, via the Facebook Marketplace. With a suite of tools intended to help small business users reach as many potential customers as possible, it’s a resource that shouldn’t be ignored.
With that said, it’s important to know how to make the most of the opportunity, as a 2017 study of nearly five thousand small businesses using Facebook showed that only twenty-four percent managed to create a positive return on investment. Why is this number so low? The answer likely lies in optimization: unless you make it easy for a new customer to access the information you want to present, you’re not doing everything you can to capitalize on this amazing small business tool.
What Is Facebook Marketplace?
Facebook Marketplace is a digital, online market where Facebook users can buy, sell, and even trade goods or services with other users, from people local to the business all the way up to a potentially international audience. Every transaction that takes place occurs outside of Facebook, which is a way for Facebook to minimize their involvement and legal liability. Using the tools in Facebook Marketplace, you can search or browse for items to buy, create item listings of the things you have to sell, and present information and promotional material to a huge number of potential customers.
What Can I Do with Facebook Marketplace?
Using the built-in tools that Facebook offers Marketplace users, you can:
Bear in mind that unlike eBay or other online e-commerce platforms, Facebook has no involvement in any sale, and both buyers and sellers are expected to work out transactions on their own and handle them off-site. There is no way to process payments or invoices through Facebook Marketplace, so you’ll need to rely on other means to make sales.
How Can I Attract Customers to my Facebook Marketplace Page?
It’s not as simple as garnering “likes” from potential customers on items or articles you post. Facebook likes don’t translate into a direct return on investment. They help—the more popular your Facebook Marketplace page is, the more likely you are to appear in searches and in the feed of Facebook users who are following you—but likes alone don’t guarantee sales. So how do you increase your chances of converting a visitor to a customer? Three words: optimization, optimization, optimization.
Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Marketplace Page
The tips below are crucial to the success of your business on Facebook. Be sure to follow all of them, as they are basic, easy to accomplish ways to customize your Facebook Marketplace page so that customers are both more easily attracted and stay longer, which ultimately translates into sales for your business.
Use a Custom Profile Picture
Make sure you’re using a profile picture for your Facebook Marketplace page. It’s even more important than your cover image, which is the banner that appears at the top of the page and under your profile picture. Your profile picture will show up in more places on Facebook—on every page update, every share, and even when someone sends a private message to another user linking them to your Facebook Marketplace page or a specific item you have for sale.
The profile picture should be a square that measures 180 x 180 pixels, but should be legible when it’s shrunk to 40 x 40 pixels, as that is the size it will be when it appears in users’ news feeds.
Customize Your Cover Photo
While the profile picture is of the utmost importance, a good cover photo is almost as critical. A cover photo can make your Facebook Marketplace page more eye-catching, and should relate to your business in some direct, easy-to-understand way. Facebook also allows you to use a video instead of a still image. Cover videos can be twenty to ninety seconds long, and should be at least 820 x 312 pixels, as that is the minimum size for cover images.
You’ll also want to change your cover photo or video occasionally: at least seasonally, but also when you want to share news or sales events with potential customers. Bear this in mind and make sure you schedule it in advance so you’re not scrambling at the last minute to make sure you’ve got just the right image or video to draw in prospective buyers.
Fill In Your Description
Facebook Marketplace pages each have a “Description” area that allows you to write a brief (only 250 character) description of the goods and services you sell, and any other information that you think will attract customers. It’s not a lot of room, so every word counts—and this will also help your page rank higher in searches, so be sure to complete this.
Add a Link to Your Website
There’s a space for you to add your main website's URL, so you will definitely want to do this. It’s a way to drive customers to your business website, which allows you much more leeway with presentation. A link to your business website is the opportunity to capture the attention of Facebook users, and as all sales are conducted off of Facebook Marketplace, you’ll definitely want to make sure any possible customers can find and revisit your website easily.
On your business website, you’ll also want to link back to your Facebook Marketplace page, which will both allow visitors to return to Facebook and land on your Marketplace page, and will help your page rank more highly in search terms both on Facebook and externally (for instance, in a Google search for your type of business).
Use a Custom Username
Facebook Marketplace pages can have custom URLs or “user names.” A user name allows you to link to your Facebook Marketplace page with a simple, easy-to-understand URL address (like facebook.com/my_store_name_here) instead of a random string of characters that will be the default unless you set a custom user name. It’s also another opportunity to get your business name in front of people, so be sure that your custom user name is identical to or closely related to the name of your business.
A custom user name and URL will also allow your page to rank much more highly in search results than a Facebook Marketplace page without customization, so it’s a detail that can’t be ignored.
Fill Out Your Business Story Section
The main description field is limited to 250 characters, but the Business Story section has much more space available. Take advantage of it by telling potential customers about your business and about yourself. What sets you apart from your competition? What warranties or guarantees do you offer customers? Why does a customer need your goods or service, and why is your offering more beneficial than that of a competitor?
The more detailed, original text you have here, the higher your Facebook Marketplace page will rank in searches, so it’s not just something for prospective buyers to read once they’re on your page—it will actually help get them there.
Other Information to Include
You’ll want to make sure the following information appears on your Facebook Marketplace page. The easiest way to do this is to “pin” the post to the top of your page. A pinned post will stay at the top even when you make updates, making sure it’s one of the first things your customers see when visiting your page.
To pin a post, first write the post containing the important information, then click on the three-dot menu icon at the top right and select “Pin to Top of Page.” Some information you’ll want to make sure appears in that pinned post includes:
Congratulations on pursuing your dream of running your own business, and best of luck in using Facebook to drive sales and garner repeat customers! Following the tips outlined above will help attract customers to your Facebook Marketplace page, and once they're familiar with it, you'll want to be sure to engage them (by asking questions, posting polls, allowing reviews, etc.). You'll also want to be sure to regularly update the content on your page, and answer any messages in a timely fashion. If you follow all the tips above, your business—and your customer base—should show steady growth.