JCK Las Vegas: Social Media Can Help Jewelers, Panel Agrees



Social
networking is more than just fun, it’s a business tool that jewelers can use to
increase sales, participants at a social networking panel said Friday morning.

Ron
Samuelson, of Samuelson Diamonds in Baltimore, said he’s seen a big spike in
traffic as a result of his presence on social networks. “The other day I had
two customers come in that I knew from Twitter and nowhere else,” he said. “I
believe it’s helped me very much.”

It
certainly has been useful for getting publicity. Samuelson notes that he’s been
written up in the Wall Street Journal
and Baltimore magazine.

“Every
single reporter is on Twitter,” he said. “Before, you needed a PR agency to get
press. Now all you need to do is hit an ‘at reply’ and you can get the
attention of a New York Times
reporter.”

But
jewelers shouldn’t look at the networks as simply a vehicle for increasing
business. “It’s about fun, it’s about enjoying it,” said Daniel Gordon of
Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City. “It’s not about pushing out sales
pitches. I don’t go to a cocktail party and talk about business 90 percent. You
need to put hobbies and things that you do on there.”

Like at a
cocktail party, he uses it as a way to meet new contacts. “My theory is to be
as many places as I can, as often as I can, and to engage with as many people
as I can,” he said.

Jacques
Voorhees, founder of the Polygon trading network, agreed with the cocktail
party analogy. “What’s your ROI on a cocktail party?” he asked. “Today a lot of
companies are seeing these networks as a marketing opportunity. That’s a
misunderstanding of what these sites are about. What part of social do you not
understand?”

Jeff
Corey, of Days Jewelers in Maine, said his company’s been using social media
sites to attract a young demographic. “There are many people out there that
will not set foot in a jewelry store,” he said. “They think we’re overpriced,
they are worried that some pushy salespeople will force them to buy something.
This communicates that we are real people, we are nice people, and we are
professionals.”

He
eventually hired a college intern to sign the company up for social networking
sites and leave it with a strategic plan. The intern came up with a plan that
would let people find an icon on the Days Jewelers’ Web site.

Voorhees
said he found that the most successful companies on his trading network are the
ones that find an employee who likes using the tool. “My idea is to look in
your company and find someone who is passionate about it, who doesn’t look at
it as a chore,” he said.

He also
cautioned that there has to be some oversight to avoid potential
embarrassments.

Moderator
Michael Schechter agreed. “I often hear, just hire a teenager,” he said. “You
want somebody who can competently answer customer service questions.”

He
suggested that people who want to get into social networking should begin by
starting a Facebook page. “Go see all the jewelers you know, and all the
brands, and just see what they do, and how they are using it,” he said.

There
was also talk about the site Yelp, where Samuelson had a customer give him a
negative review that could not be removed. “You are on their site, and you
can’t take down your profile,” he said.

Voorhees
said, “The world of online reviews is a genie out of the bottle. I don’t know
how we are going to put it back in.”