Have you ever wondered why some of your “for sale” posts on Facebook (or elsewhere) get almost no action, while another seller’s listing of lesser cards gets hundreds of comments and loads of sales? Have you had inconsistent results when trying to list and sell online? Read on for some proven tips for improving your sales by employing some basic engagement strategies.

I just read a comment from a friend about his struggling listings, which are driving his opinion that the market must be down. Anecdote. And personally, I just sold out of a large consignment lot in record time and at record prices for me. Does that mean the market is thriving? Another anecdote.

But I do know that not all listings are created equal–there are things you must know and do to sell well, consistently, online. Let’s dive in.

First things first: Desirability and Price

Let’s start with the obvious: a mix of high desirability and low prices will almost always result in a quick sale. Hank Aaron good, Tommie Aaron not so good (no offense).

But speed isn’t always the goal–most sellers want to extract as much value out of a listing as possible (for me, that’s because this profit helps me buy more cards!). And in the world of engagement algorithms, regardless of the desirability / price equation, you still need to be seen to sell. So, what’s the key to getting more views and more sales?

Listing Basics

Cardhound has already written about the basics of necessary strategies for successful card listings. Obviously, you need the elements detailed there:

  • An accurate description of what you are selling (year, manufacturer, and description of any flaws not clearly visible in photos)
  • Good, clear pictures in natural light or glare-free LED–preferably out of plastic–front and back 
  • A clear description of the sales method, and shipping details 
  • A reasonable list price or starting bid 

All the views in the world won’t help you if your listings contain inaccuracies, bad pictures, or a “starting bid” that is already above market price.

Understanding Engagement Algorithms

Algorithms are obviously complicated and mathy, but at the core, it’s pretty simple: posts with likes, shares, and comments will be prioritized in the feed, under the assumption that the post is driving engagement with the platform, which is the goal if you’re Facebook. There is all kinds of good stuff to read if you are interested in learning more about engagement–knowledge which can not only drive sales but also help you grow your Twitter following, etc. Everything from post length to time of day to photos to tags can impact how often your listing is seen–and of course, visibility drives sales. (Hint: Wednesdays are best–read on)

Facebook Group Activity Graph–Wednesdays are most active.

Sadly, this algorithmic logic is why we see so much drama, fake news, clickbait, extremism, and polarization on social media: “engagement” is the goal, truth and reason be damned!  But that’s a soapbox for another day. As sellers, understanding the algorithm and playing to it are necessities.

Personally, I use engagement knowledge every day when planning what to write about for this site. A “hot take” on a current news story–preferably involving some kind of PSA controversy!–will get more clicks than a fun feature on someone’s great collection. Sad, but true! I still write collection features because I think they are important, fun, and relevant. But I also need the site to generate clicks (to sell ads, which helps me sustain this project!), and so I stay tuned into what kinds of vintage card topics people are searching for on Google, and I plan accordingly.

From Theory to Practice: Using the Algorithm to Sell More Cards

If you want to experiment with using this knowledge to improve your selling success online, do as many of the following as is practical. This list assumes all other criteria above are met (high desirability, reasonable price, accurate description, good pics, etc.).

1. Timing is Everything

People assume weekends are the best time to list and sell. Typically, Wednesday and Thursday are best. If you want engagement on your posts, post during days and times when the most people are online. The stats from the Facebook group I admin look like this currently:

2. List multiple cards per listing

More cards listed = more likely comments, clicks, views, bids. Bids on a hot card can bring more views and action to a lesser card.

3. Auction instead of sale

At the least, do a larger claim sale of multiple cards. If you have the courage, auction instead, and go with a lower starting bid on a few cards to drive early action on the listing. I’m surprised often at how high some cards sell at auction–especially solid raw vintage.

4. Pics in the Comments

Whether sale or auction, pictures in the comments is a good idea. People can claim or bid underneath. This drives offers as “comments” rather than via DM.

5. Use Your Words!

Describe cards in detail. Most engagement algorithms privilege length of post. Be creative, be informative, or just be a bit long-winded.

In Conclusion . . .

The good news is that none of these strategies are especially difficult to implement. Yes, the knowledge base needed to accurately list and describe your cards takes years of experience to attain. But if you have the foundational hobby knowledge and experience, using just a few new tricks will go a long way towards increasing engagement with your posts–and engagement leads to sales if your listings are otherwise sound.