Social media offers ways to stay connected to family and friends in this age of quarantine, but some platforms are better suited to more specific audiences than others, depending on the types of connections you’re looking for.
Facebook, for example, is fabulous for staying in touch with friends and family, and certainly offers more intimate connections than something like Instagram, but it isn’t without its controversies and frustrations. (Have you hidden posts from obnoxious relatives and friends there, too?)
Instagram offers a different experience, one that connects you with family and friends, but lots of strangers, too—”influencers,” people with similar interests, aspirational and inspirational accounts, and so on.
To satisfy any social interactions missing in our lives, some may wish for the days when AOL’s Instant Messenger (remember AIM?) was the communicative avenue of choice. There’s just something about those one-on-one (or group) conversations that can’t be replicated on platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Yes, their direct-message options are similar, but they’re not necessarily the purpose of the apps.
You can talk to friends and family on FaceTime or Zoom, you can commiserate with your housebound loved ones on daily life, but for members of the jewelry industry, wouldn’t it help to share what’s going on in that world? Fears—or better yet, good ideas—about your business, news good and bad that you want to share with others who might benefit, or just a pleasant exchange with the people you buy from, sell to, or encounter at trade shows?
So when news of the (free!) digital platform from Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN) arrived in my inbox, I was eager to look into it. Quite frankly, right now checking a new way to communicate with people online is the closest thing to stepping out in the real world—akin to taking a new exercise class, joining a play group with your kids, walking into a new store. It’s a way to meet new people, have some conversations, and participate in some small talk or deep conversations.
Originally, the new platform was meant to be a premium offering from WJN, a for-pay package offered on a tiered membership basis. But given everything that’s going on, the organization is offering it for free—for at least the next six months, according to a statement. “Now more than ever, we need to connect with our communities and share our thoughts, hopes, dreams, and advice,” said managing director Victoria McKay, in the statement.
WJN is not the only organization to offer such a platform, though it made for a very simple signup process, and I was able to jump right in and see it. As WJN is based in Kent, England, and mostly serves members in the U.K., it’s not surprising to find an audience composed mostly of professionals across the pond. A quick scroll through members with the “near me” filter resulted in only two other users in the States—one in New York, another in Washington. Still, as we’re all currently struggling with the same situation (even in “normal” times, members of the industry can all relate to certain struggles), there are really no borders to keep us from finding the support we need.
The platform functions as a message board of sorts, organized into various topics in which users can post. There’s also an instant chat option, and you’re able to see which members are currently online. It’s all very straightforward, stuff you’ve seen before, so there’s no having to spend time figuring it out or exploring far and wide. Notable current topics include COVID-19 Challenges, Social Distancing & Self-Isolation, Home Schooling, and Working From Home, among others. The current crisis seems to dictate much of the conversation, and why shouldn’t it? Members lend ideas about engaging with consumers in new ways along with other helpful tips for navigating this new current normal, and there’s lighter stuff, too: recipe ideas, workouts, and—what jewelry site would be right without them—sparkly things to share. There are even invitations for virtual happy hours on Zoom.
The engagement isn’t huge at the moment, but it’s cool, and as I’ve said, it might feel good to log on to something new if you can find the time to do so. No matter where we are in the world, as an industry—as people—we’re all collectively facing these new challenges, so there’s much to be learned from the topics and users here, whether you’re in the U.K., the States, or elsewhere.
Check it out, and also stay tuned to JCKonline for an updated list of webinars and other resources that might help you to stay connected and informed.
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