My first ever experience of using the web to locate services was when I was still living in Shanghai. Although during most of my time spent in China, Facebook was blocked and so I decided to spend life without the awesome online tool. And so there were other services for expatriates including Craigslist.
In Shanghai’s Craigslist, you will find a lot of services catering to expatriates. For example, if you’re looking for accommodation or a tourguide, you’ll have an easy time finding whatever it is you’re looking for. There are Shanghai groups on Facebook; perhaps too many. You can ask members for advice on good accommodation or tips but I think you’re best bet is to stick to classifieds.
If you’re literate in Mandarin, try Chinese classifieds (e.g. Baixing).
Having said that, Facebook is very efficient depending on the type of service you are looking for. There are so many groups and pages on Facebook that if you know what you’re looking for and how to search for it you will definitely find it.
I’ve used Facebook to search for collectors, article writers (I’ve used both Craigslist and Facebook for this, the response on Facebook seems to be a whole lot faster) and even penpals.
The advantage that Facebook has over Craigslist in this case is that on FB, you get to check out the person’s profile and use an educated guess if the person might really be who they say they are. On CL however, you only get their email address when they respond to your advert and their phone number if you’re lucky. You then have to go by that.
Perhaps it’s time CL integrated FB on their site? Just a thought.