Facebook Classifieds- The GOOD and the BAD

Facebook new logoLast week, Facebook launched an internal classified ad system. All new listings are free. For this reason, the launch appears to be more a marketing avenue than a revenue stream. Posting a new listing is extremely simple. The inteface is intuitive to the point that my 5 year old cousin could use it. As is the case with any newspaper classified ads, the major categories include:

  • Jobs
  • Housing
  • For Sale

Using the system, you can view your listings, as well as your friends. In addition, you can also list things you want - like a reverse marketplace.

At first glance, my initial thought was… Aha, another Craigslist competitor. But upon further analysis, I do not think this is the class. Facebook is STILL a social network at its core. This new launch simply provides a value-added service to the main offering. On the other hand, Craigslist IS a classified ad system and although community plays a huge role on the site, many users prefer to remain anonymous and avoid the social features.

Another major difference is around the actual posting process. With Craigslist, a poster can remain anonymous and there is no need to register. Whereas with Facebook, an account must be registered. This is much more of a barrier to entry for some.

In any case, I see some definite advantages and some small disadvantages (or short-comings) to this new Facebook offering. First of all, the “For Sale” section is ingenious. Students/young adults are always buying and selling textbooks, furniture, bikes, electronics, etc… For this reason, there is a stunning value proposition. There is also a case to be made for the “Housing” section as well. This demographic is akin to living with others and is usually frequently on the move. Therefore, creating a strong communication tool to facilitate the process is powerful.

Where I see short-comings is in the “Jobs” section, and to some degree, the “Housing” section. As we all know very well, the Facebook demographic is young for the most part. Having said that, most employers or company executives tend to be of an older age bracket. There is some incongruence here. Most of the employers looking to hire students and/or young adults will not possess a Facebook account, nor will they want to have to go through the steps. This is of my opinion. Some call this added security or an extra layer of protection that Craigslist does not have. I call it a barrier to entry.

Furthermore, the same can be said for many potential landlords looking to rent their places. Facebook needs to streamline a process for these individuals to quickly and easily post listings without a registration. Otherwise, these potential posters may be missing out on a huge market and Facebook users may be missing out on potential job opportunities or housing.

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