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For the last few years I’ve been working closely with universities, analyzing the investments that have been made to increase student engagement and campus quality of life. With the recent activity from Facebook (and the other hyperlocal marketplaces like OfferUp, Letgo, Craigslist, etc), I’ve been fascinated how the connection between peer-to-peer commerce and student life engagement has still yet to be made.
Let’s take a look at Facebook’s latest move…Marketplace. Not only did they launch a new module, but replaced Messenger’s icon (located on the middle of their menu bar) with an entirely new operation. By removing their flagship feature from the main focus of their mobile menu, it’s safe to assume that Facebook is now focusing on peer-to-peer transactions.
Why hasn’t it become widely popular within universities and overall campus life? Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter:
- There are minimal regulations regarding posts/users in the marketplace. Their inability to keep track of the items being posted has created an unsafe platform for users. Let these headlines from CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, New York Times, and more speak for themselves…
– Facebook sorry for sex, drugs, gun posts on Marketplace (USA Today)
– Facebook Marketplace Becomes Black Market for Drugs and Guns(Newsweek)
– Facebook Marketplace Goes Wrong: Sex, Guns and Baby Hedgehogs(NYT)
– Facebook Marketplace: The world’s worst flea market (Biz Journals)
A screenshot of Facebook’s marketplace showing drugs, guns, and babies courtesy of International Business Times
2. Facebook failed to launch a superior marketplace. There is no part of Facebook’s marketplace that is better than any other platform. On the contrary, they offer less services than some. Facebook has relied too much on the “convenience factor” of offering the platform inside their app and have not innovated the actual marketplace enough to surpass the competition.
3. Facebook Marketplace has remained an unsafe alternative to other platforms. An article released by TechCrunch touts Facebook’s marketplace as a “Friendlier Craigslist”. While that is undoubtably true, Facebook should have made more of an effort to address safety over friendliness.
4. Facebook chose to limit their marketplace accessibility to mobile devices. Facebook is the only major marketplace provider that has gone exclusively mobile…limiting overall accessibility and user-base.
5. Posts are rarely relevant to a college student. When a user scrolls through Facebook’s marketplace, they are often shown items that are irrelevant to the user. (18–22 year olds are being shown kids toys and pet accessories…)
Facebook has validated the demand of peer-to-peer marketplaces.
Because this tech giant has poured so many resources into this feature and located it front and center in their mobile app, it has validated the need for peer-to-peer marketplaces…but Facebook has not completely solved the puzzle of a peer-to-peer marketplace fit for a university and its students.
Top 5 Reasons Why Ulyngo Solves These Problems.
- Requiring ID verification to make sure each user is an enrolled student.
- Having a 600+ keyword flagging system to sensor inappropriate posts with 24/7 site monitoring.
- Requires all users to follow their universities student-conduct code and works closely with university campus safety departments to mediate any safety issues.
- Offers a universally accessible tool for web, mobile, and everything in between.
- Ability for users to customize the way they receive listing notifications based on interests, major/curriculum, and more.
We are changing the way students use communicate within a peer-to-peer marketplace environment.
Also published on Medium.