When I shared the nuts-and-bolts details of HOW we sold 90% of our stuff, I noted that one of the most effective selling resources I used was Facebook selling groups. I’d say about 80% of the stuff I sold went through the Facebook selling group I used. But prior to this downsizing experience, I had never used Facebook selling groups, and there was definitely a learning curve — it’s very different from selling platforms like Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon.
Whether you’re downsizing, clearing out your closets for the new year, or just looking to make a little extra cash, Facebook selling groups can be a tremendously effectively tool. Here are my ten tips for using Facebook selling groups.
1. Find the best group for your needs.
When I first started using Facebook selling groups, I was listing in three local sites: Loudoun County Upscale Resale, Loudoun County VA Online Yard Sale, and Loudoun County Area Garage Sale Group. I pretty quickly learned that which group you use will really impact how much money you can make, how quickly you can get rid of items, and your overall sales experience.
- Local buyers. Finding the most local group you can is extremely important to move items quickly. I think one reason Craigslist let me down was because the selling range (the DC metro area) was just too large. A buyer who lives just down the street from you will be much quicker to pick items up (which also cuts down on people flaking out). Someone who lives an hour away from you may ask to pick up an item on the weekend, then change their mind or have something come up between now and then, and then you have to start your whole process almost from scratch. In many cases I had people come pick up an item less than an hour after I listed it — something that’s only possible in a super-local group.
- Relatively high price point. This made a huge difference in sales, and it’s the reason I eventually started listing exclusively on the “upscale resale” group. It takes a lot more work to sell 10 $2 items than it does one $20 item, which makes your life so much easier. (More on this below in tip #4.)
- Quick turnover. When you’re looking at Facebook selling groups, it should be pretty simple to pinpoint pages that are active and pages that are just **crickets**. Look for lots of chatter on the page, lots of comments on posts — and comments that indicate that the group members are actually buying and picking up items, not just window shopping.
- Clear rules. I know some people chafe against rules, but in this case they’re your friends. The main Facebook selling group I used had pretty aggressive rules, but that also meant expectations were clear and people were on their best behavior. Rules like “no business ads” keep spammers away and keep your stuff from getting lost under junk ads.
- Selling page vs. group page. Some Facebook selling groups are just that — groups. To list an item you have to create a photo album of items, then share it to the wall. It will make your life much easier if it’s a group that’s set up to sell. If it is, you’ll see a box like this where you’ll input your information into a template and it creates a tidy listing for you.
2. Learn the lingo.
Every group has their own language for selling and buying. There should be a pinned post at the top of the page explaining abbreviations and what they mean. My Facebook selling groups used shorthand like “SA = still available,” “BU = backup (If the person who said they want it doesn’t take it, you’ll take it),” “PPU = pending pick-up,” and “EUC/GUC = excellent/good used condition.” Making sense of abbreviations helps you respond and sell more quickly.
3. Be available.
In the best groups, stuff sells quickly. The first time I listed items I was shocked that people were messaging me within minutes of my listing being posted! I quickly learned it was very difficult to just list items, leave my postings, and then come back and sort through all the responses. If at all possible, you’ll want to post your listings at a time when you’re also available to answer questions and set up meetings immediately.
4. Set your own rules.
Everything will go more smoothly if you clearly state your own selling “rules” and conditions in each and every listing. Some things to consider:
- Will you bargain, or is your price set in stone? Include language like “price firm” or “OBO (or best offer).”
- Will you sell to the first person who comments, or to the first person who can pick up? Include language like “priority to first pickup, please comment with dates & times.”
5. Observe selling patterns.
Every group has active times and slow times; figure out the patterns of your Facebook selling group. If you’re posting during a slow time, your listings will get pushed to the bottom of everyone’s feed. In my group I found that Tuesday – Thursday were the most active days in the group, and activity was best from about 8am – 4pm (with a definite spike around lunch time). On the other hand, items I posted late at night or on weekends (especially Sunday) got little-to-no interest. Think about the demographics in your area, and who the ideal “customers” for your stuff are, and that should give you a good initial indicator.
6. Create bundles.
This was HUGE for me in moving non-furniture items. Once I found myself with a lot of miscellaneous stuff that seemed best suited for a garage sale and wasn’t nice enough to meet the $20 selling minimum in my Facebook selling group, I started bundling. If you don’t know what to bundle, let your house give you some clues. At one point I took the two throw pillows, a fuzzy blanket, and a basket I had on/near my couch and bundled them together. I took a centerpiece I’d created — a runner, tray, and a couple of candles — and sold those in a $20 bundle (all were homemade or thrift store finds). Rule of thumb: if it all goes together in your house, it will go together in someone else’s house, too.
7. Take awesome photos.
First, the basics. Vacuum/polish/tidy everything in your photo, as needed. Make your item look the best it possibly can. You’re much more likely to sell your item if it looks clean and neat. Take pictures from as many angles as possible, and highlight up front any damage or imperfections. Then, look at your listing as your chance to be a designer for a day. In many cases I found that staged photos moved more quickly than photos of just the item on its own, like the photo of my work space below. They show how nice an item can look (and also that you’re generally a clean and not scary person and that they can feel comfortable bringing your stuff into their home).
8. Get creative with your listings.
This is a trick I learned when I was listing our dining table (below). We had bought this table as a project, but hadn’t gotten to it yet when we started downsizing. I considered completing the project to make more money off the sale, but with everything going on I decided it wasn’t worth my time. But I still wanted to make sure others could see the potential in this table that I did! So here’s what I did. First, I uploaded a few pictures of the table, as-is. Then I included a few photos (from Pinterest) of what I had been planning to do with the table. I wrote up a little copy explaining my vision for the table, my ideas for the project, and even what products I’d been planning on using! The woman who bought the table was about to have her youngest child go off to kindergarten and was looking for a DIY project for some of her new-found time. She was super excited to hear my ideas and take on the project, and I was happy to see my table to be loved in a new home.
9. Relist as needed.
If something isn’t moving at the price you’re asking, don’t be afraid to relist it; maybe the right person just hasn’t seen it yet, or missed it in their feed. In most groups you can just “share” or “bump” your listing on the page, to make it show up at the top. But I learned it was far more effective to copy-and-paste the information from the listing into a new selling template, then delete the old listing. It looks fresher, and can create new interest in an item, instead of making it look like something that’s been passed over for a few weeks. (Take a look at your listing and see why it might not be moving, too: do you need better pictures, more details, or better sales copy?)
10. Be friendly, polite, and safe.
As in every community, eventually you’ll come across someone who gets pushy with you, stands you up, or is just generally a jerk. Resist the urge to squash them like a bug: especially if you’re trying to sell a lot of stuff, antagonizing people on the page is only going to create drama. If you’re selling over a 3-4 month period, you’re building into the community on the page, and people will remember if you’re nice. And if anyone makes you feel unsafe or creeped out, report them to the group’s admin and decline to sell to them. That said, in many ways I think the Facebook platform is safer than Craigslist because there’s more accountability in having other members know who you are and even just having a picture associated with your name. I never had any issues, and in most cases I even felt comfortable, after chatting with people on Facebook messaging, to let them come by the house when I was home alone.
Those are my ten tips for using Facebook selling groups. Have you ever used Facebook selling groups? What are your tips? And do you have any questions for me?