How to Sell on Facebook in 2019 [Tutorial For Beginners]
You asked Google, how to sell on Facebook, and found yourself on this page? Good for you! You’re about to read a comprehensive step-by-step guide full of fresh and actual info, written in a digestible manner.
Selling products on Facebook is a topic that has been red-hot for years. The early birds started making money on their Facebook eCommerce projects back in 2011.
As of 2019, this sales channel still remains a trendy and probably promising direction to move forward. With the caveat that in 2018 Facebook announced preparing… well… a bit of bummer for businesses. But first things first.
Currently, Facebook offers a good plate of opportunities for selling your products… but they are generously spiced with all kinds of complications.
Hard it is to balance between adding more (and more, and more) features yet not becoming monstrous. This border is thin, and to me, Facebook is about to overstep. Try setting up your Facebook store, and you will hardly withhold comments like that:
“Facebook Shop and Facebook Marketplace are two different places for shopping and selling? So which one is right?”
“Hmm… There’s a Power Editor and Ad manager and the “promote” button, and they’re all for one and the same thing — creating Facebook Ads? Okay, got ya, but where do I create a campaign?”
“What do you mean I need a “Facebook Page”?? Isn’t my Facebook account a page? Do you want me to create a Facebook group? Or WTF do you want?”
If in the attempt to understand that rocket science your brain is starting to boil, and your eye is twitching, you’re not alone.
Yeah, I know the feeling. So I have done the homework for you and systemized all the bits of most essential info into this Everything f-Commerce Guide.
What’s the difference between Facebook Shop and Facebook Marketplace?
It may sound like Facebook Marketplace has something to do with online buying and selling.
But it’s far from being a true eCommerce platform.
One cannot actually buy and sell items on the Facebook marketplace. Just find the products (or list them) and get in touch with the owner to arrange payment or negotiate the price. No payment processor supported. No shopping cart, no tax calculation, no nothing that you expect to see as a seller.
If you pick the wheat from the chaff, Facebook Marketplace becomes simply a listing of local personal ads. In a sense, it’s an attempt to build another Craiglist — but only for FB users.
Do you get the idea? It’s aimed at users, not businesses.
So cross the marketplace out from the list of possible B2C tools with a determinate face, and let’s switch our attention to Facebook Shops.
Unlike FB Marketplace, this is a way to go for businesses thinking about selling stuff on Facebook. It is definitely closer to an online store.
It even supports transactions, if you wish, as long as you’re in the USA. The rest of the world has a single way to accept an order — redirect the buyer to an external website, supporting the shopping feature. The call to action button that you select for your Business Page can be attached to your Amazon shop, Shopify store, webstore powered by X-Cart or any other store builder.
How to add a shop on FB?
If you want to sell via FB, the very first thing you will need is a Facebook Page.
Yes, in terms of Internet, your profile page is a web page indeed. But in Zuckerberg’s social network, “Facebook Page” is a separate page for business purposes, where you will act as an admin.
So, go create a Page, it’s a no-brainer.
It will ask you to choose a page category. You can get started with ‘Business or Brand’ that will allow you to showcase your products or services. Or you can go for ‘Community or Public Figure’ to connect with people from your group or club.
Once the page category is chosen, specify your page name and add a category to describe your page.
After that it will ask you to add a profile pic and a cover photo (you can skip both), and you’re all set.
Now let’s take a magic wand and make a little magic — create a nice Facebook store out of nothing.
Option one — add a Shop section on Facebook
Facebook Shop Tab is quick to set up, but rather tricky to find. The first thing you should do is to check if you have access to it.
Visit your Facebook page and check if there’s the Add Shop Section link below your cover picture. It should look like that:
Source: Social Media Examiner
The good news is that you do not have to be a major retailer to have the access to this feature. But, yes, strange as it may seem, it appears at random!
Here’s the step-by-step scenario for you:
Open the Page you created on a previous step.
Click the "Add Shop Section" below your cover photo. Note: If you do not see the button for some reason, you might need to change your Page’s template. Use this instruction to do it.
Agree to Facebook’s Seller’s Terms and Policies.
Select the currency.
Select the checkout method. Actually, you choose from two: a message to contact you or a redirect to your eCommerce website. For the USA-based businesses, there may be shown the third option — checkout right inside Facebook through Stripe.
<for merchants from the United States> If you have chosen to process payments inside FB via Stripe, you will be asked to specify the credentials of your existing Stripe account. If you don’t have one yet, you will be instructed on how to set it up.
Now enter your business address and business email.
The "walls" of the store are raised, but the storefront is empty, so put your products there. Specify product titles, upload eye-candy product photos, craft a selling description, specify price, category, shipping methods, whether it is visible to the public or not and whether it is on sale.
Now go promote them like crazy.
Option two — use Ecwid
The word "Ecwid" may sound a bit weird to a native English speaker. "Hic-weed", as it has been jokingly referred to in one of the thousands of positive reviews.
Jokes aside, it’s a superb eCommerce widget that you absolutely must consider if you want to add shop to Facebook, as well as Wix, WordPress, Weebly or Adobe Muse — or any other existing website builder that your site is powered by.
Icing on the cake, it has a free plan. But believe me, being free is not the main reason to take a closer look at selling online via Ecwid.
40,000 stores powered by Ecwid on Facebook only, over 1 million sellers in total — that IS the reason. All these successful businesses selling products around the world can’t be wrong.
Ecwid’s Facebook shopping cart features are even wider that Facebook’s own ones. They include:
- Automatic Tax and shipping cost calculation. It integrates with carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx and more
- Secure checkout with 40+ payment options, all PCI DSS compliant — without leaving Facebook.
- Synced inventory, if your online store is connected not only to Facebook, but also to WordPress, or Weebly, or Wix or anything else. Ecwid will showcase the same products, prices and descriptions on all the storefronts. You upload the products directly to Ecwid, it synchronizes the listings everywhere,
If you’re interested, see how easy it is to Add Ecwid to Facebook.
By the way, you may notice that a link to Ecwid is not an affiliated link — I will not earn a dime, even if you subscribe to paid plan of theirs. And since I have no financial interest, doesn’t it make my friendly recommendation more trustworthy? =)
Option three — a native app for your Shopping cart solution
Many ecommerce platforms have a ready-made app listed in their official marketplaces.
- Entire product catalog on Facebook Shop tab — searchable, with categories structure and featured products.
- Customers shopping on Facebook are redirected to complete checkout through X‑Cart web storefront.
- Sales coming from Facebook are marked in your X‑Cart admin backend for tracking.
Online sellers, whose stores are powered by Shopify, should take a closer look at this app. The app uses Facebook Shop API, so you can sell products directly on your Facebook Page and enable checkout on right on Facebook (the feature is for the USA only!)
Source: Amazon S3
There’s also a top-rated extension for Prestashop, but unlike Shopify’s, it doesn’t use Facebook Shop API, and creates its own tab instead.
I’m sure that most top eCommerce Platforms offer such an integration with Facebook, either for free or for some affordable fee. If you already have your online store, go check its marketplace. Just search for "Facebook" and if the app exists, you will find it.
So, now you see that creating your very own store on Facebook is easy-peasy. But that’s not all. You don’t need deadweight, you want your store to kick ass!
How to market the shop on FB?
To make money — that’s actually it’s only purpose, yeah? Well, money comes, when customers come. Customers come when traffic comes. No traffic — no money.
Got it? You need traffic. Passive waiting brings you nowhere. You snooze — you lose.
Before you continue reading make sure you know general rules of selling online — how to set the right price, how to define your target audience, what skills can help you sell anything to anybody, and the rest. They will work for Facebook, as well.
What are "legal" ways to market your Facebook store that do not contradict TOS?
1. Generate engaging content
According to Shoptab’s data, the majority of sales are made through posts on your Facebook wall, not through people who visit your Facebook page. So waiting for potential buyers to come, stumble upon your Shop tab and make an order is the worst possible strategy.
You have to build a real community of followers, posting engaging content, and systematically promote your products between the non-selling posts.
"Systematically", not "only"!
The promotions should not outnumber entertaining and relevant content. 3-4 promotions a week is the golden mean, as long as you post everything else daily.
A list of creative posts ideas for business from this Instagram guide applies for Facebook Fan Page too. I have revised it a bit to take into account the specifics of FB.
These posts will be "selling without selling", as they’re building a stronger relationship between your brand and those that have liked your Facebook page.
- Creative product showcase: lifestyle shots, customer testimonials
- Backstage: process of product manufacturing, packing and shipping the orders
- Corporate culture of the company: about the team, offsite events, charity programs, exhibitions and shows
- Educational posts: say, if you’re selling surfboards, you may share your expertise on choosing a board, give tips on surfing, comment on the most recent local events, interview the celebrities of the surfing world.
- Industry news and trends — interesting for you, they may be attention-grabbers for your followers too.
- Fun shots that still apply to your brand: new way to use your goods, Hawaii party in the office. A surfing alpaca will also do a great job=)
- Quotes and surveys – that might be cheesy, yet very resonating with some groups of followers – like teenagers, maybe. So think of using them, but think twice=)
It goes without saying that to keep conversations going, you need to respond to comments.
2. Facebook giveaway on your Fan Page, maybe?
You may think of running a Fan page contest. In terms of instagram marketing, it’s a proven way to get more followers. "Tag-a-friend-to-enter", "repost-to-enter" etc boost your following enormously.
A thousand of shares, that’s what a Facebook marketer dreams of.
But what these guys are doing is against the rules of Facebook. They are breaking the rules because of ignorance, or practicing the happy-go-lucky attitude, or for whatever reason. Yet, that’s not officially allowed.
Here Facebook Help Team clearly explains, what is forbidden:
Source: Facebook Advertiser Help Center
I should also add that you can not ask participants to change their Facebook timeline cover photos. The only two conditions allowed officially are to like and comment, period.
Is there any use in running such a contest then? Well, it will definitely NOT be that effective, as an Instagram campaign.
But it definitely IS a way to raise your posts in Facebook feeds of your existing followers — which has become kinda pain in the butt too.
The thing is, Facebook Algorithm shows the post with the highest engagement rate first. If the very first viewers are not commenting and liking your posts like crazy, it may never be shown to any further subscribers at all. You may leave it on your timeline or throw to trash right away — the effect will be the same, zero (<sigh>).
So, if you want your posts at least to APPEAR in the news feeds, do them super-engaging (newsworthy, funny, provocative, viral, you name it) or run contests. If you decide to, this article features a couple of free tools to pick a winner.
3. Facebook UGC contest
If you can not ask them to share the posts of YOUR fan page in exchange for bonuses, you can ask them to post their own!
Their status updates with testimonials, product reviews on your fan page, videos or images. All that stuff is extremely powerful in showing their friends — your potential buyers — why your product is worth giving a try.
User-Generated Content is a great way to sell on social networks for a number of reasons:
- Your brand actually reaches the Facebook audience of the content participants — for free.
- You’re getting the social media content (photos and videos) demonstrating your product in use — that’s what "refined" product photos of your store may lack.
- Rarely do people simply post photos — normally Facebook users also add a caption, describing their experience — that’s exactly what you want.
Facebook Contest Ideas is what may be stuck with, but thanks to this absolutely amazing article by Wishpond, all you need is to choose one from the list.
Jordan Lore has collected 25 creative contest ideas, such as:
- Tell Us How You Would Use [Product] to Win it!
- Take a Photo of Yourself Using [Product Name] OR At [Location] OR Doing [Activity]
- Name our new [Product]
- Caption This to Win [Prize]!
- Vote on which [Product/Service] We Should Put on Sale
- Vote For Your Favourite Product
- Selfie Contest
… (the rest is here, as well as detailed howtos and examples.)
Want to see a Facebook contest with UGC in action?
This is an example of a very successful social media campaign that covers Facebook too: "BUSCH BEER IS SENDING 500 FANS TO THE 2018 DAYTONA 500"
The number of public posts with brand mention is huge and growing, all with positive comments — that’s exactly what a brand is looking for.
4. Facebook ads
We occasionally run paid FB campaigns and see "Facebook-assisted" orders, according to Mixpanel (even more occasionally). But I should honestly say that I’m not a fan of Facebook advertising.
It looks promising, it seems powerful, it is designed to impress advertisers.
Probably this video by Veritasium I watched back in 2014 has become the final nail in the coffin of my trust to this tool.
Indeed, no matter what geography and target audience I was trying to configure in the Ad Manager, most likes I saw were from very alike accounts that don’t seem to belong to real people.
And just like on Instagram, I would do my best to avoid fake followers by all possible means.
Fake likers will not only generate no sales, but also damage the "deliverability" of your content to real subscribers.
They will not engage with your posts, when you publish them,
- it will be a sign for Facebook that your post is not interesting to anyone (even if it really IS)
- say good-bye to seeing it in the news feeds of potential buyers
In my opinion, nothing beats organic audience.
- It’s engaging.
- It’s converting.
- It’s free.
But it would be overconfident to consider myself the sole possessor of ultimate truth.
There are experts that stand for the opposite.
Neil Patel, a marketing guru you may be very well acquainted with, states with authority: “I think every business tries Facebook ads, fails at it and then blames the platform. People just suck at making Facebook ads work for them”.
If these words inspire you to experiment with Facebook advertising, please read the full guide on Facebook Advertising by Neil Patel.
Hey man, where’s the MEAT of the guide, the part about sales?
The juiciest part about online selling is here, yeah.
But it will not be about Facebook (good grief!)
You may probably not like it this fact. But no matter how successful your Facebook store is, with it you will be getting only about 10% of all sales, compared to having your own website PLUS Facebook presence.
Facebook is just another Marketing Tool. Your own eCommerce website — that’s the main locomotive of your online sales. So if you’re serious about selling products online, do consider creating your online store (we have a guide with spoon-fed instructions and how-tos).
Another strong argument not to put all eggs in Facebook’s basket is a recent announcement by Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO at Facebook:
This revamp of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm to prioritize content shared by friends and family, and demote branded posts from publishers and businesses can’t but affect their post views and sales. They will for sure notice a huge drop in the audience reach.
If Facebook is going to sacrifice the interests of businesses for the sake of individual users, starting ecommerce business on Facebook is probably the worst idea.
But we’re in 2019, when there are TONS of other opportunities, from selling on Etsy, Amazon and eBay to creating your own AliExpress. Another way to go is diving into omni-channel pool. I won’t explain it now, sorry, too many words to type. You can read it in our ‘Omni-channel marketing’ guide.
How about Amazon, to begin with?
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X-Cart copywriter, PR and Marketing Manager, I came to eCommerce company in 2009 as a customer support assistant, went on to work as a Project manager in the Custom Development team to discover the needs of e-merchants and deliver the projects that meet their needs. This experience gave me a deep understanding of how things work from both a developer's side and a user's point of view, and it really helps in creating articles with love and care. Apart from eCommerce, I am a loving wife and mother, yogi and aerial hoop performer.