Still Not Sure About Social Media? You’re Not Alone

Alex of Martin’s Jewelry recently wrote me an interesting email, which he gave me permission to share with you …

For a long established store like mine it seems I find myself feeling like we are way behind in terms of websites and social media.

I’m sure you find that the case with most of us independents in our industry. Your magazine spends a lot of resources and time in helping us all try to understand the importance of the technology to continue for us to be relevant. I find that those efforts on your part are not only tremendously appreciated by me but extremely useful and important. Things like Michael Schechter’s Jewelry 2.0 column, discussions about Facebook, Twitter, etc. everyone’s efforts?…amazing and a bit overwhelming is some ways ….

… It seems like our industry media like JCK, are confused as to why they see the hesitation on some parts of our industry to get heavily involved in this social media…and can’t understand that hesitation.

The real questions for me are how does my single store independent fit into all of this? Is it really worth the huge investment in time and resources? What would the return on that investment be? Is Facebook, etc. really a place to conduct business?

All interesting questions. Given most people at JCK regularly use these sites, perhaps we sometimes take participating in them for granted. Obviously, many jewelers have become fervent social media converts. But I would like to primarily address those in the industry that still feel a little overwhelmed by it all. (And I know you are out there.)

I believe the best analogy to social media is this

Like at a cocktail party, [Daniel Gordon] 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.  

In this industry, the best way to make contacts has always been to go to trade functions. Social networks are the electronic version of those. They haven’t replaced cocktail parties in this industry (God knows) or other kinds of face-to-face contact—but they let you “meet and greet” more regularly than before. There are industry people I know largely from my interactions with them on Twitter. Adding someone on LinkedIn or Twitter has become the modern version of swapping business cards.

Certainly, many enterprising jewelers use them to enlarge their prospect list:

“When I become friends with somebody, I look at their list and see who I can ask to be a friend … I’ll see if I recognize the name, or if it’s someone I’ve seen in local society pages. It could be people who I’ve met briefly or I’ve seen in social situations, or they could be at a company I know, like a PR firm I know or a store. I have local politicians as my friends, and I always look to see who they know.”

When she asks someone she doesn’t know to be her friend, she always writes them a note, to the effect of: “I’ve been in your store. It’s so great.” Or: “This is Stacy from J. Loggins Jewelers. Isn’t Facebook fun? We should be Facebook friends.”

What many jewelers seem to be struggling with is what to say on these networks: Should it all be professional? What balance should be struck between acting professionally and personally? What “voice” should you use?

Over the years, good ideas have bubbled up. I heard of one jeweler who displays a “piece of the week.” It’s not too intrusive, and the store’s “friends” seem to like it. Sales trainer Kate Peterson recommends taking pictures of consumers who have bought at your store, and then posting them (with permission, of course). Or you can use it like a store newsletter, to point out little items of interest, or to drive traffic to your site or blog posts. Others use it to promote in-store events. The thing is to figure out what works for you.

I certainly understand the hesitation to get involved in what seems likes a huge time-suck. For example, the big craze now is Pinterest. And whenever I hear about it, I think, “Another social network? What do I need Pinterest for?” 

But at some point, if the site keeps growing, my resistance may melt away. And I’m sure if I do ever join, I’ll find it to be fun and useful. That has certainly been the pattern with Facebook and Twitter—both of which, in their way, have become important parts of my life.

(Pinterest, I should add, seems particularly well-suited for jewelers, as it is visually-oriented, and attracts more women than men. You can check out the JCK Pinterest page here.)

As Alex mentioned, there are plenty of articles giving businesses tips for getting on social media. Here is one we wrote, and Dan has a good compilation here. I wrote one with a sidebar with some important security tips for jewelers. But even more important for retailers who still haven’t drunk the social network Kool-Aid is to just dive in. These sites are free, and easy to join and use. A good way to begin is to simply “add” or “follow” your peers and friends in the industry. See what they do that strikes you as smart. Or annoying. Or something that’s a good fit for your business.  

You may decide these sites are just a waste of time. You won’t be the first. (Hey, you can spend too much time at cocktail parties.) But running a business is all about experimentation, right?

Any other thoughts?

UPDATE: Great comment from, of course, Twitter.

JCK News Director