Your Jewelry Brand Went Viral—Now What?

Your Jewelry Brand Went Viral—Now What?

Industry / Retail / Your Store

Drawing sudden, massive attention on social media is a magical moment for your business, but monetizing it is tough

Ask the marketing gurus at Wove, a jeweler in Lancaster, Pa., about what happened when Taylor Swift wore their diamond friendship bracelet, and they’ll tell you that going viral is like running a relay: You need stamina, a cohesive team, and a willingness to sweat every detail.

Wove’s viral moment happened in February when AFC championship watchers saw a flash of diamonds on Swift’s wrist as she hugged her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The TNT bracelet he asked Michelle Wie West, Wove’s golfer-turned-designer, to create for Swift was all over social media within hours—and the orders started pouring in, says company marketing manager Susan Bali.

Michelle Wie West
Michelle Wie West, who designed the Wove customizable diamond friendship bracelet

Wove carefully managed the TikTok and Instagram buzz. The company created social media posts taking credit for the bracelet, Bali says, making sure everyone from the local newspaper to Entertainment Tonight knew who made Taylor’s drip.

All that attention led to a storm of website traffic and prompted Wove to ask West to design more affordable versions of the friendship bracelet. Within weeks, Wove had three variations of the bracelet, in different price points, in addition to the custom piece. In the two weeks after the singer sported the bracelet, Wove’s website sales jumped 5,000%.

“The Taylor Swift effect is very real,” Bali tells JCK. “Her fans are a breed of their own.”

Misho pebble pods
The Pods earrings, designed by Misho’s Suhani Parekh

Going viral—having a product or moment widely and quickly shared outside of its regular audience (think thousands or even millions of users sharing a piece of content on their social channels within a very short time span)—can be magical. Just ask the owners of Misho, Chouette, and Maejean Vintage, a few of the jewelry brands that have, like Wove, experienced a spectacular uptick in sales and subsequent business-boosting opportunities as a result of their viral content.

The truth is, however, that luck favors the prepared. All of these brands put people and processes in place once they saw virality on the horizon. Wove, for example, grabbed screenshots of Swift wearing the bracelet and created social media posts to capitalize on the moment.

What the company didn’t know was exactly when online trolls would surface in the weeks and months after Wove became internet-famous and, in some cases, how challenging it would be to deal with them. Personal attacks on the designer or the product can happen, and sometimes the language becomes explicit.

Still, many agree that having a piece of jewelry, or your business, turn into a viral sensation is worth the time and effort, especially in a world where constant distractions have consumers moving quickly from one brand to the next.

“Given that word of mouth is like free attention, there are a lot of upsides to going viral,” says Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, a book about the science behind viral moments, and a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Companies often get more customers and spend less to do it,” Berger adds. “Unlike traditional advertising, you can’t control what other people talk about and say about you. They may focus on things that are different than what you intend, and they may even say things that are negative. So part of the goals of word-of-mouth marketing is to manage the conversation.”

“Going viral isn’t the hard part,” Jess Velke, a digital marketer for the jewelry e-tailer Maejean Vintage, says. “Retaining the attention is.”

Wove TNT bracelet
Wove’s TNT bracelet
How can you prepare for a viral event?

Wove’s small team knew West had worked with Kelce to design the TNT bracelet for Swift. They guessed he gave it to her as a Christmas gift. From there, Wove’s team started watching football with a newfound intensity. When the Chiefs won the AFC championship game, Swift snuggled up to her boyfriend—and the world got to see Wove’s work through all of its social media posts and blog articles.

Maejean Vintage uses TikTok videos showing off its vintage jewelry to connect with consumers, and many of its posts have gone viral. For example, a TikTok post explaining how ring styles have evolved over the past century set to Glenn Miller’s beloved song “In the Mood” has more than 323,000 likes and 2,800 comments. A Maejean Instagram post linking the perfect Valentine’s Day gift to a person’s zodiac sign got nearly 2,500 likes and 83 comments, putting this content at the top of many followers’ feeds.

“The first thing you have to do is grab a viewer’s attention,” Velke says. “Every piece of content needs a hook that will get someone to stop and watch. Pay attention to the kind of content people engage with and build off of that.”

MaeJean social experts
The Maejean Vintage social team: social media coordinator Heidi Wurtz and photographer/digital marketer Jess Lynne
Can you make something go viral?

Misho founder and creative director Suhani Parekh says her U.K.-based fashion jewelry brand went viral without any planning or preparation. The designer behind the Pods earrings that wrap around a person’s ear buds to keep the devices in place says her creation went viral in 2020 because it came out during a time when lots of people were online (i.e., the early days of the pandemic).

“Life became super digital, and it meant that I was constantly using my AirPods, but they were constantly falling out of my ears and I’d lose them or they wouldn’t sit well with my earrings,” Parekh says. “I thought, ‘Why not make an earring that can solve that problem?’ It ended up being the perfect combination of form and function, and this all happened at the perfect time.”

pebble pods Misho
Misho’s Pods earring
What’s the best part about going viral?

Parekh says she loved the whole experience. Because she designs for herself, having other people praise her work felt great. “I was, above all, flattered and honored that my work was being spoken about with such high regard,” she says.

For Berger, the author, a viral moment is peer-driven, and as such, is worth its weight in gold. It raises awareness, spreads information, encourages consideration, and drives purchases. “People often trust their peers much more than they trust ads,” he says. “If you can get people to talk and share, it’s a much more cost-effective way to get your product or service to catch on.”

Chouette jewelry
A model decked out in Chouette Designs jewelry (photo: Chelsea Mudlo)
What’s the worst part?

Ashley McGinty’s size-inclusive Chouette Designs went viral after an Instagram influencer found and promoted her jewelry brand. She’s since gone viral a few more times for educational content that explained her background and why she makes jewelry. McGinty has been in jewelry for more than a decade, starting as a retail associate and rising through the ranks to become a manager for a department store. In 2021, she founded her own jewelry company to promote equity, inclusiveness, and body positivity.

“Anytime your work gets exposed to a lot of people in a short period of time, you are opening yourself up to critique, and that can be tough to take,” McGinty says. “You have to take everything with a grain of salt because you don’t know who is leaving that comment. Going viral is not for the faint of heart. You really have to ask yourself if that’s the end goal because it doesn’t always translate into sales.”

Having followers jump in, make comments, and act as defense can be effective, experts say. “The more eyes you have on your content, the more negative comments you’ll get,” Velke says. “Try not to take the negative personally, and definitely don’t get in a back-and-forth argument. Let the positive comments speak for you.”

Chouette founder
Ashley McGinty of Chouette Designs (photo: Melissa McClure Photography)
Can others replicate a viral success?

Velke says yes—but they must do it their own way. “It’s important to find your own niche style when it comes to making content,” she says. “Don’t just copy what your competitors are doing because then you’ll just get confused with other businesses.”

Heidi Wurtz, a social media coordinator for Maejean Vintage, agrees. “Be open to trying many new ideas,” she says. “Don’t assume things won’t work or be popular. It’s always better to try and fail than to miss out on unexpected success.”

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