First and foremost, the title and this article are strictly my opinion. As most of us know, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and more than not, they usually stink. That being said, why do I think Facebook will become the new eBay? The answer is simple. Sheer volume of people, ease of use and regional domination.
With all the small sub groups of Online Yard Sales and local seller pages on the platform coupled with Facebook’s Marketplace, the stage is already set. Like eBay, which started out as a free site for people to sell and trade stuff, Facebook’s Marketplace and user groups are free to use for people wishing to transact business. Better yet, eBay paved the way for all the hiccups which occurred and ironed out many of them. Facebook programmers merely had to write and implement code. The hard work had been taken care of a few years earlier. That being said, Facebook has already added the ability for people to ship their items, collect money and promote their items in other groups which they are members. This only leaves one avenue of approach for Facebook to satisfy shareholders in the future. Facebook will need to monetize the Marketplace.
To take advantage of the regional groups they will start charging the admins who have setup pages for use of the Facebook groups platform. This will either eliminate the groups altogether, or, the admins will have to jump on board and pay a monthly fee. I suspect Facebook will have a plan in place to make being a group owner a subscription style business and it will offer payment incentives to the group owner thus, giving Marketplace a monopoly on its own platform by tying all the groups together. This will satisfy most of the regional issues which Facebook might face as well as, it will lock up all the like-minded and local-based groups issues that are currently being served by these groups. In effect, it will create mini locally based selling sites using the power of Facebook Marketplace.
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The flaw in that plan is that while many people will embrace Marketplace and abandon groups, others will simply migrate to different avenues. This is exactly what happened when Napster was shut down because people were illegally downloading music. Here’s a little surprise for you, shutting down Napster did not stop people from illegally downloading music. It stopped them from using, Napster. In fact, downloading of music illegally actually escalated. It’s like telling a person they can not drive to New York City by using the Holland Tunnel. Okay. Big freaking deal. There are still other ways to get to New York City just as there are still ways to illegally download music online.
The writing on the wall is clear enough. Facebook is the number one social site in the world. However, they are not the only game in town and they know it. In the meantime though, it is my feeling that within the next year or two, you will see Facebook do exactly what I have said they will do. They are going to charge you to sell stuff. They are going to charge you to post ads in a classified format and their algorithms will certainly play in limiting what people see on their wall and in the groups in which they are members.
Localized venues and even small local newspaper are and will be the way to buy and sell items which are too big or cost prohibitive to ship. Facebook has literally cornered the market on local, national and international groups. There are literally billions of dollars of merchandise which can and will be sold on the Facebook Marketplace. Do you really believe, Facebook is not going to try to grab as big a slice of that pie as they can? Or government for that matter. I assure you, massive changes to internet sales tax and online earnings are coming down the pike. If you don’t believe any of this, I have a bridge I would line to sell you. Online of course.
Guy R. Mathews