Free Classifieds Announced for Facebook
As of this coming Friday, Facebook will offer free classified ads in a section of their site dubbed "Marketplace." The social networking powerhouse is most popular with the high school and college crowd, who accounts for about half of their 22 milllion members. This puts Facebook in a new competition with other social networking hubs like MySpace (offering classifieds for years now) and Craigslist - the massive free classified site.
A very interesting twist to Facebook's Marketplace is the nature in which these classified ads can be delivered. Users who create the ads can choose to have them displayed only to their designated friends or those in their networks - including geographic regions, high schools or colleges. Ads can also be placed on their profile pages and sent out as feeds to other members. This presents a very targeted ad scheme where the ads are now personalized and coming more as a recommendation from a "friend" rather than a blind pitch.
"The advantage of having classifieds linked to a social network is that you know something about the seller," said Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research. "You are less likely to buy a lemon from someone who is a friend of yours."
Facebook and its members traditionally have placed a premium on privacy, much more so than MySpace. This seemingly would make a personal recommendation even more effective. Word-of-mouth marketing is getting a makeover with social networking. As these networks grow and more of them are introduced, getting an advertising message dispersed within these communities could be very effective. Advertisers have been searching for a way to get their message across without disrupting these communities and creating backlash - in other words, advertising without being "the man." Facebook may have found a solution.