Having a presence on Facebook, and other social media and networking sites, can help a business reach new customers and interact with new and past buyers, and to siphon off traffic to outside websites, including eBay and Amazon.
Like most social media and social networking platforms, there are opportunities for free and paid-for advertising on Facebook, and numerous ways to use Facebook to generate leads for selling outside of the site.
Facebook represents a valuable advertising platform for virtually any type of business, regardless of size and immaterial of their customer catchment area. So, local firms can advertise direct to local customers through Facebook; charities can promote their activities and raise funds worldwide; artists and public figures can communicate with their audiences locally or across the globe.
Begin growing your business on Facebook by joining the network and then creating a user profile. When you sign up you’ll be asked to choose a mem- bership type most closely matching your personal and business characteristics. Choose from:
» Local business or place
» Company, organisation or institution » Brand or product
» Artists, band or public figure
» Cause or community
Note: “Company, organisation or institution” is the preferred choice for most businesses, including eBay sellers. Once you click on that link, Facebook has an easy-to-navigate system that takes you smoothly from establishing your Facebook presence through to creating pages and using apps, as well as showing how to promote your business for free or using paid-for advertising.
So what can you promote on Facebook?
According to Entrepreneur magazine: “Facebook is for you if you sell unique or person- alized products. Facebook is the worldwide capital of individual expression. It’s the perfect place to sell customized and personalized items.”
Referring to marketing on Facebook as “F-Commerce” Social Commerce Today says selling on Facebook is: “… best suited to the sale of products most likely to be purchased on impulse – fun products that provide immediate gratification and that have some symbolic value.”
So Facebook is probably not the best place to sell stuff you can easily buy on the high street.
My own research today tells me Facebook is probably a useful platform for firms selling:
• Unique products, including customised and personalised items. Consider selling T-shirts, for example, with current hot topic captions, alongside hundreds of other different items you can have printed with messages to match sub- jects being hotly debated on Facebook. Try get- ting them printed at firms like CafePress and Zazzle.
• Impulse and last minute buys. For example: events tickets, movie and pop memorabilia.
• Personal improvement products. Such as business opportunities, especially referring to running a business on Facebook; health and beauty guides; language lessons to help users communicate more effectively with members from other countries.
• The sort of goods and services people talk about with friends on Facebook. Realistically, every hot new discussion trend represents a possible market for goods to match the subject being discussed.
If you’re already selling online, on eBay, for instance, you can determine how useful Facebook might be for marketing your products by filling out a simple questionnaire.
Once completed, IsFB4ME will send you a detailed assessment of how Facebook might benefit your business.
Getting started on Facebook
Facebook is free to join and an email address is all you need to begin promoting your business. But be warned, like most social networking sites, Facebook is not designed as a free-for-all marketing platform, and aggressive marketing could get you banned from the site. So to succeed at marketing on Facebook and other social media and networking sites, you have to be subtle and unobtrusive, and you must never spam Facebook users on or outside the site.
Facebook, as for most marketing methods, requires you to spend time and energy, and sometimes money, on campaigns that might show little promise in the very short term, but over time can generate a wealth of backlinks and traffic to your businesses on or outside of Facebook.
It appears less than one per cent of eBay sellers are promoting their products and shops on Facebook right now, perhaps because few people know how to do so without breaking the rules and having their Facebook accounts disconnected.
You can start by creating a Facebook account and learning your way around the site, studying what other marketers are doing, and how they promote their own businesses at Facebook.
Once you know how it works, you can start posting your own interesting information and inviting users to visit your posts and sign up to follow you on Facebook. The idea is to establish your presence at Facebook by posting about non-commercial subjects to help you attract friends and visitors to your Facebook presence without those people feeling threatened or intimidated by heavy sales pitches.
Even without a strong marketing message, each post has potential to backlink to your outside websites from your signature file alongside each post. So if you have thousands of items selling online, not just on eBay, then each post you create on Facebook can grow a quality backlink to any one of your products.
Idea: There’s an easy way to attract Facebook users without making it appear you are spamming or openly selling to them. You do it by posting about news items relating to products you are selling on eBay and by mentioning your products casually at the end of your postor in your signature alonside each post. Make it appear you are educating people or sharing information with them, and your post will attract a strong audience without appearing too pushy or spammy.
Start by visiting Google.com, click on ‘News’ top of the screen, then sign up to receive alerts every time some aspect of one or more of your products features in a recent news story. When that happens, post your opinion of the news item on Facebook and finish with a casual mention of your eBay products.
As an example, right now the entire world is talking about the Titanic disaster, (as I write we are less than one day away from the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking).
I sell Titanic memorabilia on eBay, so my Facebook post could say something like this:
“They’re talking in the news about the fourth funnel on the Titanic and the fact only three funnels were functional. The fourth was added to make the Titanic look longer and more imposing than the three funnel ships of the day. I was looking at the Titanic postcard in my eBay shop and I can distinctly see smoke coming out of three funnels, but not from the fourth, so it sounds like the news story is correct!” Then I might end with a link to the specific Bay listing mentioned in my post.
With a page up-and-running, users can then establish a store or several stores within Facebook’s Marketplace.
About Facebook’s Marketplace
Facebook’s Marketplace is powered by Oodle and can be used to post classified ads. or build an entire shop front to sell your products, or offer gifts and bonuses to grow your list of people following you on Facebook.
Facebook’s blog says “Your listings in Marketplace can be anything – books and DVDs you don’t need anymore […] but, one thing remains the same; you have something to offer, and someone else is probably looking for that thing.” (Source)
Members can establish their own stores using easy-to-follow instructions provided on the site, or via various software program and apps. Currently, Payvment is one of the most highly respected apps designed to build a store and import users’ eBay listings to Facebook.
Payvment launches your free Facebook store and supports most world currencies, while also handling multiple purchases and worldwide sales taxes. There’s a search facility and other useful selling tools and a very straightforward tool for introducing your eBay listings to Facebook.
At www.facebook.com/payvment you’ll see how to import your eBay listings to a Facebook store in just a few minutes. The process isn’t complicated, but there are several steps involved, and if you miss one or make a mistake part-way, you’ll have to start again.
Thankfully, there’s an excellent tutorial showing how it’s all done using the eBay software program, TurboLister.
Posting products on the Facebook Marketplace
You post on Marketplace by keying in a title for the product you want to sell and including your asking price or ticking a box to say your item is free. Then you select a product category for your listing and describe it. You can add a photograph or scanned image before posting your offer.
You can limit your offering to friends on Facebook or list it for the world to see.
Once it goes live, your listing can be shared with followers on Facebook or tweeted for even greater publicity.
Your listing features buttons allowing you to share your offer on your Facebook Wall, as well as to Twitter followers and via Google+. Via the “email” button beneath your listing you can add email addresses of people you want to see your offer. You can also use paid-for advertising on Facebook and link directly to the URL for your listing.
Read the terms and conditions of posting items and offers to Facebook marketplace.
Tips for selling on Facebook
• Keep your Facebook followers engaged by posting often and answering questions in timely fashion. Too long between posts and lots of unanswered questions might indicate you’ve lost interest in your business and yourt customers, and will cause your followers to abandon you.
• Promote and link to your social media promotions on other networking sites. Tweet about your Pins on Pinterest, for example, do a Facebook post about your latest YouTube video, and so on.
• Update your status regularly on Facebook. Each time you do, your followers will receive details about your updates. These updates are called “status updates” and can reflect new products added to your shop, or special discounts and sales taking place.
However, too many updates can alienate users and make it appear you are spamming them or using Facebook purely as a selling device instead of a tool for users to share information and communicate with each other.
• On Facebook you can create photographs for your eBay products as well as running contests or offering discounts to encourage fellow users to tag your photographs or join your following.
• “eBay Wall” is a Facebook application that lets users post their eBay listings for other members to see and to share information about other items selling on eBay.
• Add a photograph to your profile. Use an image of yourself sitting beside your computer working on your eBay account or wearing a sweater printed with your eBay shop URL! That’s clandestine marketing and it works very well indeed!
• Join Facebook groups and start your own groups for subjects relating to products and services you are selling on eBay and elsewhere on and off the Internet.
• Buy a domain name that reflects the kind of products you are selling on eBay, then forward that domain name to your eBay shop using your domain hosting company’s forwarding service. Add the domain name to your Facebook pages where it will look more professional to potential customers than eBay’s longer, more complicated shop URLs.
• Submit both your forwarded domain name and your eBay shop URL to search engines.
• Add your customised Facebook URL to your business card and use it to link from revenue-sharing websites, as well as including it in the signature file alongside your posts in forums and posts focussing on the kinds of products you are promoting.
More ways to market your eBay shop and product listings through social media
• Write articles and blog postings with links leading back to your eBay shop. Most articles and blogs allow two or more backlinks to contributors, in which case you can add your forwarded URL and the longer eBay address for your eBay shop. Place your articles on revenue-sharing websites and use shorter articles in posts at social networking sites.
• Create videos featuring your products and upload them, with your eBay shop URL or forwarding site address, to social networking sites like Pinterest, YouTube, My Space, etc.