Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
When I try to sell used stuff around the house, I usually start with a yard sale if I have enough quantity. Once the yard sale is over, I will put the bigger or better pieces that didn’t sell on eBay or Craigslist. Similarly, if I am looking to buy something that’s relatively cheap, I start with yard sales and those two sites. Now that I am more proficient in Facebook, and my list of friends is growing, I’ve learned there are many other uses for Facebook beyond “keeping in touch”, “playing games” and “updating my status”. Facebook is a good tool to buy used stuff for cheap or to sell your used stuff. How do you access the used Facebook marketplace? Let’s take a look.
The first and quickest way to start is to simply use your status update feature to announce to all your friends that you have something to sell or that you are looking for a specific item. This is quick, easy, and painless. However, the audience is limited to your friends and you may not have too much success, particularly if most of your friends live hundreds of miles away and you are trying to sell a refrigerator.
The next place to go is the new or used Facebook Marketplace. This site was launched earlier this year and allows you to find items for sale or to sell your used stuff. The site is powered by oodle. Stefan covered oodle at length in his March 2009 article Oodle – Another Craigslist, But Slightly Better. To list items for sale, you have to allow Marketplace permission, like other Facebook applications. The site has four primary categories: items for sale, housing, jobs, and vehicles. Beside each category is a small “+ post” button for you to add a post.
Marketplace is as easy to use as Craigslist, and to me, easier than ebay, since you don’t have to bid and wait. Via the Facebook interface, you can comment and ask questions about the items up for sale. When you go to the main screen and begin browsing, you can set your location and search area to limit the distance you want to search. You may find a deal 500 miles away, but shipping costs or a trip to pick it up may make it less cost effective. Once you select your location, a section of the resulting page will show you pictures and a brief description of the latest items listed for sale.
If you choose to browse one of the four categories, the page comes up in classical Facebook interface style. The “type your status here” bar is replaced with a “Post in ___” bar (fill in the blank for the category). You are also provided a choice to “post” a listing or “find” an item.
From the main page, if you have clicked the “+ post” button beside a category, you are given the choice to “sell it” or “give it away”. Curb alert! Also from here you can post requests for items by clicking on the “ask for it” button.
You just can’t find what you are looking for in the Marketplace? Hunt up one of the Freecycle groups. If you’ve never heard of Freecycle, let me explain – at least a little. Freecycle groups exist in many locations and through various internet channels. Freecycling is simply giving away things that you would normally throw away or donate. A large majority of items are clothing related, but I have gotten some decent video games and books through Freecycling. Many people don’t have time or enough items to hold a yard sale, they don’t think the stuff is worth much money, they don’t live near an organization’s donation location, or they just don’t want to throw it away, so they list it through a Freecycle group.
Freecycle groups are accessible through Yahoo, Craigslist and Facebook, among others. On Facebook, simply go to “Groups” and in the “search Groups” box, type in ‘freecycle’. Numerous groups will come up and you can browse for one in your area. Join the group, and you will get status updates when items come available.
Some groups, like those on Yahoo, are set up to send an email alert every time something is listed. Be forewarned if you live near a metropolitan area, you may get swamped with emails regarding items you are not interested in. You may want to establish a separate email account tied specifically to the Freecycle group or you may want to use email filters set for a particular item you are needing. If you use a Facebook Freecycle group, your wall may end up being flooded with status updates about items as well, so you may want to turn these off and just go look at the offerings when you are looking for something in particular.
Yard Sale groups on Facebook are another way of finding good deals. Yard sale groups are relatively unexplored and there are only a few out there. Like the Marketplace, you buy and sell, but like Freecycle, this is done through a Facebook group.
I really like this concept, particularly if you have a group of friends who live relatively close to one another, but you just don’t have time to hold a yard sale or time to go to yard sales on Saturday morning. You can start the group, advertise via your status, and start a small local network of friends who can buy, sell, or trade items.
Do you have any other creative ways to use Facebook to find good cheap stuff?