Summary List Placement
Craigslist might have brought classified ads to the internet, but Facebook Marketplace has perfected the art of peer-to-peer selling.
Thanks to the social media platform’s existing user base of about 2 billion, a spokesperson for the company told Business Insider that, “hundreds of millions” of people use Marketplace monthly, compared to around 59 million at Craiglist.
Selling on Facebook alleviates some of the trust issues users might have on competing platforms, because the vendor and buyer to see each other’s profiles. And, while the antiquated Craigslist interface is iconic, frequent sellers have increasingly gravitated toward Marketplace because of its streamlined design.
For these reasons, a crop of professional sellers has arisen on Facebook Marketplace in recent years. Some of these entrepreneurs use the site like a virtual storefront, making sales and interacting with customers, without having to worry about maintaining and promoting a separate website.
Brittany and Heather Dyer, the couple behind the farmhouse furniture business Beautiful Fight Woodworking, have been selling furniture full-time since 2017. This year, the Missouri-based business has generated more than $168,000 through the platform, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider, and sold more than 900 items. Combined with the transactions processed through their personal website, Beautiful Fight Woodworking has netted $265,900 in revenue in 2020 and surpassed 1,400 sales.
Clara Leung, the operator behind Clara’s Green House, has also used Facebook Marketplace as her digital storefront. Leung specializes in hand-potted houseplants that incorporate the tenets of feng shui into their design, type, and placement. The Washington D.C.-based vendor does not treat the platform as her full-time job — she is an accountant for the Department of Justice — but she has made more than $15,000 in six months of selling this year, according to documents reviewed by Business Insider.
Business Insider spoke with both businesses about their strategies for selling on Facebook Marketplace and the lessons they’ve learned in their years selling on the platform.
Lead with your story
When customers are shopping in peer-to-peer marketplaces, they understand they are buying from real people with real stories. As a result, crafting and then framing your story as a Facebook Marketplace vendor is critical to adding an emotional appeal on top of your product.
The Dyers, for instance, bake their story right into their branding. Their name, Beautiful Fight Woodworking, alludes to Brittany Dyer’s 2012 fight with cancer that left her paralyzed and out of a job — the origin story behind their business.
Likewise, Leung’s “About Me” page informs readers that she is from Hong Kong and versed in the practice of feng shui, as well as that she is deaf and a single mother. Leung weaves these narratives into a unified thread: she is empathetic, hard-working, and has an intuitive understanding of natural energies.
“I’m always adjusting my marketing strategies and trying to portray myself the way I need to be portrayed,” Leung told Business Insider through a sign-language translator.
Know your keywords
The primary way customers find products on Marketplace is through search terms, similar to search engine optimization many websites use to find the most relevant customers.
The Dyers have a list of keywords that they try to “own” by peppering the terms throughout related posts and ensuring they use those keywords on every applicable post. For instance, they make frequent use of “farmhouse,” “handmade,” “coffee table,” and “shop local,” which they say puts their products on the radar of like-minded people.
“If someone searches ‘farmhouse coffee table, and I have two or three of the keywords that they used, that’s really going to help my listing rank more highly,” said Brittany Dyer.
Monitor the trending section
In addition to making judicious use of keywords, the Dyers also monitor trending items by watching the “Today’s Pick” section on Facebook Marketplace. The feature displays a constantly updating list of items that reflect what users are searching for most on any given day.
The Dyers use the section to see what’s popular, then adjust their offerings to appeal to that.
“The feature is a great way of getting a feel for what your community is looking for — what’s trending in your area, what people like, the style that they’re going for,” said Brittany.
Tap into passionate, niche communities
Both the Dyers and Leung attribute part of their success to making niche products that appeal to a small audience. Beautiful Fight Woodworking, with its narrative of overcoming cancer, working with your partner, and making furniture from scratch, all draw in a supportive community.
Leung, in particular, has leveraged her unique background to find a customer base. The green-thumbed entrepreneur has tapped into the East Asian community, and its advocates, who recognize the value of feng shui in home design.
She also has found a warm reception in the deaf community, and has risen in prominence as a successful hearing-impaired businesswoman. On her Instagram, Leung uses videos to sign her explanations of how various plants and soils interact with each other, and Facebook Marketplace’s emphasis on text-based interaction has allowed her to circumvent the challenges of communicating with customers who don’t know how to sign.
“When it comes to my customers, I have the deaf community and the hearing community,” said Leung. “Almost the entire deaf community in the United States knows my name.”
Repeat customers are better than new customers
Both the Dyers and Leung mentioned repeat business as a key component of their strategy. The Dyers offer custom-orders to fit a customer’s exact specifications. This ensures that clients will return to the Dyers when looking for new furniture, even if what the customer wants isn’t available on the storefront.
Likewise, many of Leung’s clients have more than one houseplant, so when customers have another opportunity to make a purchase, Leung relies on the attention to detail she provides to differentiate her from nurseries. She mixes her own soil — a “recipe” she says she inherited from her mother — and tells customers not only about the plants, but provides consultations to determine where they should be placed and how they should be treated.
Through these efforts, the Dyers and Leung convert single sales into fruitful relationships, which allows them to spend more time working to please their customers and less time worrying about marketing.