Though the act of getting engaged is an age-old tradition, it is not immune to evolution. Still, in a world generally accustomed to things being done a certain way, it can be hard to break the habit, even with good intentions.
Engagement 101‘s Severine Ferrari is here to change all that. With her new “Propose Too” initiative, the founder and editor of the proposal-planning publication seeks to flip the script on traditional engagements, embracing the modernity of reverse and dual proposals—women proposing first and women proposing back.
The initiative intertwines with the efforts of Engagement 101 and lives on the platform’s website, but it features its own unique content, research, testimonials, and proposals. In addition, Ferrari is offering a line of products—T-shirts, pins—to women looking to reciprocate or initiate a proposal to their significant others. Most exciting is an engagement pendant, designed in collaboration with jeweler Chris Ploof (shown below): A dog-tag style, stainless-steel piece featuring the word Engaged—a smart alternative to the often-shirked mangagement ring.
Below, Ferrari talks about her short- and long-term goals for Propose Too, and how she’s using social media to start a revolution in the way we—consumers and the jewelry industry—think of the engagement business.
JCK: Give me your elevator pitch—who are you, how long have you been in the industry, and what is your goal with Propose Too?
Severine Ferrari: I am the founder of Engagement 101, a consumer publication dedicated to proposal planning that launched 12 years ago. I was born and raised in Paris and moved permanently to New York in my 20s. I believe that my outsider-turned-insider approach has helped me forecast trends in the bridal industry and anticipate committed relationships’ behavioral changes. My goal with Propose Too is twofold. First, I would love for the engagement announcement moment to become more about the guys, too. Then, I would like to empower some women to take control of the proposal timing.
You’ve grown a massive social audience with Engagement 101 (at press time, 63.7K followers), and there are most definitely proposal stories to be discovered that fit the criteria that Propose Too is eager to share. Give us a brief outline of how you plan to grow Propose Too’s social presence.
I have a two-year plan to make Propose Too a strong trend. 2020 is a leap year, and there’s an old Irish tradition that encourages women to propose on Feb 29. By then, after sharing a growing number of reverse-proposal stories and tips, developing partnerships with other influencers and brands, I think we will have successfully convinced a decent number of ladies to propose too and make this day big enough that it will set a big trend. In the meantime, we will publish interactive content including “Propose to Him” contests to help our audience visualize for themselves how they would do it. We will also aim at motivating the jewelry industry to offer more engagement jewelry for him. I am planning a mangagement ring design competition for early 2019 that consumers will judge.
Propose Too launched on Engagement 101’s website. In that spirit, how do you plan to levy Engagement 101’s social following to support the Propose Too audience?
Absolutely, Engagement 101 and Propose Too are to always be strongly connected. We have reserved Thursdays on the Engagement 101 accounts to focus on Propose Too. If something Propose Too–related and newsworthy happens during the week, we will share it on the Engagement 101 accounts.
Which hashtags have you found are working best for you right now? Is there one in particular that you’d like to see your followers/potential featured proposals to be using in order for you to find them?
I follow #DoubleProposal, #SheAskedHeSaidYes, and, of course, #ProposeToo, and #Engagement101 (people still use it for all types of content they want me to publish).
Let’s talk mangagement rings. Your sentiment (quoted in a press release) that they have seen little traction seems accurate—it can be difficult to convince some men to wear wedding rings! I love your creation of the Propose Too proposal pendant (in collaboration with Chris Ploof), because it reciprocates the symbol of commitment in an alternative way. How will you use social media to spread the word, not only about the product, but the notion of an engagement pendant? Let’s start a movement!
When I started working on this project, I contacted designer Chris Ploof because he is such a metal geek/expert and knows the male bridal consumer so well. He had this invaluable feedback that most men are not into bling and wearing rings. Wearing a wedding band is already a big commitment for some guys, so they are not going to wear two rings after the wedding. There was also a price-point issue for a majority of couples that have to plan a wedding and have budget limitations. This is how the Propose Too pendant idea was born. We started showing the pendant in our first short movie in early October and will work on an influencer campaign soon. We are planning some in-store events as well as street interviews to get the reactions of real people. As I was mentioning earlier, we will have contests/giveaways, and we intend to create more short movies with diverse couples and other storylines featuring the pendant.
Instagram is undoubtedly incredibly valuable for spreading Propose Too’s message. Do you plan to utilize any other social platforms along the way?
We are still using Facebook too, though it is so sad that the Facebook algorithm has buried page content that is not advertised. The fact that all the members of a family are on Facebook has always been an asset for proposal planning. Grandma can send an invaluable recommendation to her grandson or granddaughter.
YouTube isn’t a platform that often comes to mind when talking social media, but the fact is that it’s huge with not only a younger generation, and most of us probably use it more often than we realize. Your short movie Double Proposal lives on YouTube—is this a channel that you intend to enrich with more videos?
We have been at the forefront of publishing consumer-driven engagement-planning content with Engagement 101 TV since 2008. Now that a lot more people are producing content around picking an engagement ring or a diamond, we are going to step back from this type of content and refocus on fiction and relationships topics.
Everyone has a different definition of success when it comes to social. What’s yours?
Numbers are nothing—engagement is key. If you get 10,000 likes and hardly anyone engages, what is the point? The definition of engagement depends on your content. For the engagement-planning process, a lot happens behind the scenes. So I look at the number of times a post is saved and the number of DMs more than anything else. I do like when other people are tagged: It can grow your fan base, but having a follower doesn’t translate into them seeing your posts. Having your audience save a post or engage with you is priceless.
First site you check in the morning?
I have a routine that includes way more than one site. But I do start with French news sites and French Elle. It is my way to stay a little connected to my birth country. I also always check Instagram, the news feed, and Stories as well as my DMs and tags (our audience is connecting more and more by DM).
Social media pet peeve?
Influencers who are only self-promoting and showing how pretty they are with Facetune. They are not trying to use their platform to give back to their audience something that can truly help or entertain them. I follow a lot of “body positive” influencers, and their voices are so fresh and authentic.
Finally, if you could leave us—and jewelers in the industry—with some inspiration, how do we encourage ourselves/friends/customers to just go for it and propose already?
As long as you have reached a place in your life where you feel confident in who you are, what you want in life and your relationship, you should propose, whether you are man or a woman.
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