|Wed May 16 2012 13:19:59|
What Could the Facebook IPO Mean for Online Sellers?
By: Julia Wilkinson
There's been a lot of hype over the Facebook IPO set for this coming Friday, May 18, with Facebook setting a price range on Monday of $34-$38 per share. Most of the talk has been over to buy or not to buy shares - is it overvalued? And as reported by The Wall Street Journal today, General Motors says its paid Facebook ads don't pay off, and it plans to stick to using free Facebook social media resources such as its official Facebook page.
Other advertisers such as Subaru plan to keep doing paid advertising on Facebook, and marketing analysts say its audience of some 900 million registered users -- "Half of the U.S. population," according to Subaru -- is too big to ignore.
But I'm more curious about how the goliath social media site might evolve and change the online selling world. So far, there doesn't seem to be a cohesive, broad-reaching way to sell items on the site, other than Facebook Marketplace powered by Oodle, an app on Facebook, which I blogged about in February: Why Aren't More People Using Facebook Marketplace?
As the title suggests, the anecdotal results and my own admittedly limited attempts to sell via the Marketplace were not impressive. But, it's way too early to count Facebook Marketplace out. So Facebook and/or Oodle may get the Marketplace to a place where it's viable for everyone to sell everyday items.
Meanwhile, small glimmers of online selling and swapping hope appear in the form of some Facebook groups which have gained traction. These are largely niche at the moment. For example, there is the Re-Lilly group, where people are actively selling (and buying and swapping) pre-owned Lilly Pulitzer brand clothing. This group has over 13,300 "Likes" (that's a lot for a niche group!). And that is evident once you click into the group, as the number comes up in pink and green.
There are local swap groups, such as "Swap Shop," which is for Paris, Texas and the surrounding area only. There's a Babywearing Swap (for baby carriers), Postcards Swap, "SWAP SELL OR BUY GADGETS:)," and many more such groups.
Yesterday someone in my Yard Salers group posted a link to a kind of "promote your eBay item" group - "Free eBay Auction Advertising." This one appears to be brand new, and UK-based. There are also several groups named simply "Yard Sales" and groups local to certain towns. And there are "Sell" or "Seller" groups such as one for Etsy Sellers. And let's not forget the other Apps, such as eBay Selling Feed.
But these groups and apps may not be the face of the future of Facebook selling. If there's anything I've learned after over 23 (gulp) years in the Internet, including working for "Quantum Computer Services" in 1988, which became "America Online"; it's that it's hard to predict what the next big thing will be. (Back in 1989 people used to laugh at me typing away on online networks and said this online thing was a "fad." Today I heard some people think Facebook is a "fad").
But I would keep an eye on all the ways Facebook is evolving and keep trying out its ways to market, swap, and sell, so when it turns on a dime you'll be right there. For one thing, as a public company, it will be under pressure to show profit and growth, so it's possible it will experiment with paid online selling.
What do you think of online selling on Facebook, now or in the future? Do you use its Marketplace app, swap sites, or your own page or group to promote your products?