8 Mistakes You’re Probably Making on Facebook Marketplace — and How to Fix Them

updated Apr 30, 2021
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Whether you’ve been in your home for years or are moving into a new place, sometimes life calls for a refresh. Updating decor and bringing in new items can be good for the soul as folks update colors or test out a trending style. But what exactly should you do with castoffs, and how do you find new decor without breaking your budget? That’s where going social can help. 

Digital platforms such as Facebook, which originally served to keep up with friends and find local events, can be an easy way to put a little extra money into your pockets or keep it there by shopping on a budget. Anyone with a Facebook account can buy and sell in an Instagram-meets-Craigslist style on Facebook Marketplace. Whether you need to offload a couch or are in search of artwork for your walls, knowing the best practices is essential. Here are eight things to consider to set your Facebook Marketplace experience up for success. 

Credit: Justine Darragh

You’re selling the wrong stuff.

Folks can sell almost anything on Facebook Marketplace, but one surefire way to get your listing taken down in a hurry is to list items that go against the rules. Facebook is pretty clear in what it will and won’t allow — for example, tobacco products, pirated software, weapons, sex toys, alcohol are all prohibited. And you can check out the full list of things Facebook prohibits here.

However, the wrong stuff doesn’t just include the fairly obvious list above. Don’t do a disservice to a potential customer by trying to sell an item that has been recalled due to a manufacturing issue, or pass off counterfeits as the real deal. Follow the rules, play nice, and you should be OK. 

Your photos aren’t doing your items justice. 

Don’t waste the time of your potential buyers with poor-quality images. Cast blurry, dimly lit photos to the wayside, and do your best to show off your wares in the best way possible. Smartphone photos will do just fine, but take the time to photograph your items well.

Soft daylight works best, so take your items outside or place them near a window. Give your things the photoshoot treatment, and upload quality images that clearly present your items. Depending on the article, highlight different angles and various sides. Also, take pictures of any flaws, so buyers aren’t surprised when they pick up their purchase.

You aren’t correctly describing your items. 

Facebook Marketplace makes it relatively easy to nail the perfect description. However, it’s up to the user to correctly fill in the necessary blanks. A catchy title will get attention, and use the dropdown boxes to categorize and list the condition — be honest! The description box is a fabulous place to add specific information, such as dimensions and any history on the item. Accurately representing items is vital.

As a point of caution, don’t skip over the box labeled “product tags.” If you’re selling decorative pillows, use words such as “bedding” and “interior decor” to narrow down the search. Adding relevant tags helps items reach potential buyers searching for articles for a living room re-do. 

You aren’t pricing things properly.

I get it: You paid $1,800 for your dresser, and you want to make some of that money back. However, unless it’s a designer piece in high demand, chances are you’ll sell your piece for a fraction of the original cost. Do a quick search of what others are selling on Facebook Marketplace and for how much. In some areas, you may be able to sell your dresser for $1,500, yet you may get $500 in others.

For smaller items, a great way to potentially get more is to offer to ship the item yourself. Someone down the street may not pay $120 for a vintage Waterford vase, but a couple two states over may think it’s a bargain. Offering shipping can open up a whole new world of interested parties.

You’re uncertain who claimed the item. 

Everyone has a preferred method of contact, so be prepared. If several people are eyeing your newly listed houseplant, you may receive multiple DMs and comments under your post. Sometimes it may be impossible to know who was the first to claim the item, and that’s OK. Just do your best to determine who gets your beloved greenery.

Another way is to go with the buyer who is willing to meet or pick up the item first. A simple comment or DM doesn’t guarantee a sale. Sometimes, a buyer will claim an item and then ghost you. Conversely, sellers may ignore buyers if the response is overwhelming. Both buying and selling are tricky when it comes to timing, so do your best to be fair as a seller and gracious as a buyer.

Credit: Julia Steele

You aren’t prepared for virtual payments.

Another way to protect yourself and your finances is to arrange safe payment. If you’re meeting in person, use cash or a service such as Venmo or Cash App. Of course, this involves having money on hand or the app on your phone ahead of time, so make sure to be prepared.

Unfortunately, some people take advantage of folks who pay ahead of time by just not meeting up. Being left in the dark after paying for an item is never a positive experience, so wait to settle up until you are in person if possible. And if you use a third-party payment service, you may be able to request a refund for anything you didn’t receive or received in much different shape than it was advertised. Just check out your options to see which apps offer purchase protection before you use it.

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

You’re not playing it safe. 

Bad apples are few and far between, but that still means you need to use caution with Facebook Marketplace. When buying or selling, meet in a well-lit, high-traffic location, such as a grocery store parking lot. If you must rendezvous at a house, such as with large furniture pieces, try not to be alone during the pickup time. Invite a friend over for a work session or lunch, ask your roommate or partner to stick around for the meeting, or if you do have to go it alone, ask a friend to check in with you via phone or text after the buyer is supposed to leave.

Also, do your homework when it comes to your buyer or seller, and give their profile a quick peek. Fake, newly created profiles are usually pretty easy to spot. When in doubt — or if it just doesn’t feel right — feel free to pass. 

Your listing isn’t updated. 

Facebook Marketplace and its users can’t read your mind, so if an item sells, be sure to mark it sold or take the listing down. No one wants to field unnecessary comments and DMs months after your items are long gone. 

Also, if a piece isn’t selling, maybe you’re asking for too much money, or the description isn’t detailed enough. Tweak your listing as needed to ensure that your item sells. Another option is to boost your articles to show up at the top of searches and quickly reach potential buyers. Depending on the price of your item, it may be worthwhile to spend a few dollars on promotion to get the right clientele and sell your things quickly.