Community Service

Supporting others online is a free and easy way to grow your business

Take one look at how the digital revolution has impacted the marketing of industries like fashion and technology, and it’s clear that jewelry lags behind. Sure, we’re all adapting to phenomena such as social media faster than ever before, but it just doesn’t seem like the jewelry industry is experiencing the same explosion of online conversation as other sectors.

One big reason is budget. As a whole, we tend to spend less on marketing than our counterparts in fashion and technology. However, the Web is the great equalizer—helping the little guy get the word out. This leads me to believe there’s a deeper problem: a lack of an ecosystem.

What, exactly, do I mean by ecosystem? Essentially, it constitutes anyone who is willing to spread the word about your products or services on the Web. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to limit the jewelry ecosystem to the blogs and magazines that write about jewelry online, the retailers and manufacturers marketing their designs on the Web, and vocal consumers.

In order for the trade to grow (and direct) the jewelry conversation online, we need to work harder to create a more robust ecosystem—even if that means backing off from promoting our own products and services to support the industry at large.  

Getting yourself and your brand into the mindset to contribute is key. Here are three ways to get started: 

Start listening. The first step in any online effort is to learn what people are talking about online. Take the time to create a “listening station,” which allows you to monitor what people are saying about your brand. Google Reader is a great, free service that aggregates the latest content on your subject of choice from your favorite websites, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. You can—and should—branch out from the jewelry world to find interesting and relevant content from other industries.

Share the content you like. Once you begin to pull content into your listening station, the next logical step is to start sharing. Google Reader makes this simple with fast sharing options for Facebook and Twitter, as well as light blogging services such as Posterous and Tumblr. As you find interesting posts, share them with your network, along with a little note that explains why you think they’ll find this information useful. And don’t be shy: If you’re sharing a company’s content, use its Twitter name when tweeting or tag its fan page on Facebook.

Create your own content. Having a home on the Web where all of your listening and sharing comes together is the most crucial part of contributing to the ecosystem. Usually, this takes the form of a blog, but it can include articles, e-books, videos, podcasts, and more. The trick is to learn from everything you’ve taken in and strive to create something remarkable that your customers and partners will find useful enough to share with their networks.

A well-known blogger named Chris Brogan has a philosophy of 12-to-1. For every post about your own product or service, he suggests you put 12 posts about others into the world. Sure, with nearly 180,000 followers on Twitter and a top-ranked blog, he could make every post about himself, but how much do we really like people—or, for that matter, brands—who only talk about themselves? Beyond the good-natured aspects of this philosophy, the 12-to-1 ratio will also put you on the radar of potential partners who just might help you the next time you share your content with the world.

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