How to Know Whether You Are Wasting Your Time on Social Media

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. When it comes to social media, that old adage is more relevant than ever. Follow JCK’s primer to determine your return on investment.

Now that even your mother has a Facebook account, it’s a good bet your business does as well. But have you ever asked yourself if you really know what you’re doing there?

Jewelers today feel pressure to be engaged in social media: That’s where their customers are, and it’s where people expect them to be. But whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, or any other sharing platform, using social media to your best advantage can be a challenge. One of the biggest difficulties is measuring results: Is the time and effort you spend on social media making a difference, or are you just wasting your resources?

Plenty of business owners “assume it’s the right thing for them, but they don’t understand what they hope to get out of it,” says Ryan Goff, senior vice president and social media marketing director at Baltimore-based marketing firm MGH Inc. “I don’t think they understand the result.”

Social media experts and retailers who have mastered these virtual worlds say there are a number of steps you can take to figure out what kind of results your social footprint is generating.

Know what you want

Goff says the first and most critical aspect of getting a good return on a social media investment is to understand what you hope to accomplish.

What do you hope to accomplish with social media? Answer that question and a strategy can take shape. (Petri Artturi Asikainen/Getty Images)

“When we walk in, we ask three questions,” says Rod Worley, president and founder of Grayson, Ga.–based social media marketing company Four Grainer LLC, which focuses on jewelers.

Worley’s three questions guide jewelers to firm up their social media goals. First, he asks them to determine if they’re looking to increase sales or brand awareness. If they have e-commerce capability, he prompts them to decide if one of their goals is driving sales to the website. Then, Worley suggests they consider their priorities: Is it more important for them to find new customers or improve customer loyalty and retain existing customers?

Set realistic expectations

“Results come over the long term,” Goff says. “You’re not going to see people running into your store the day after you set up a Facebook page.” 

Patience is key—as is the proper frame of mind about what social media is and what it isn’t. “One thing that’s really important to keep in mind is it’s not primarily a sales tool,” says Nina Cooper, president of Emeryville, Calif.–based wholesale supplier Nina Designs. “It’s more like being at a trade show.”

This means responding to any comments or ­complaints immediately. “To ensure that we have great customer service through Facebook, we check it probably hourly to make sure any questions that have arisen from our posts get handled quickly,” says Amanda Green, senior marketing specialist for Omaha, Neb.–based Borsheims Fine Jewelry.

“Our goal with our social media isn’t necessarily the hard sell,” she adds. “It’s to put the human side, the emotional side, to our company’s name.”

Make it a “social” effort

Although Borsheims employs a staff member who doubles as a social media manager, Green is quick to point out that “we all collaborate on ideas.” The store has a dry erase board in the staff area where anyone can jot down a quick idea for a post or picture. “Sometimes we even get ideas from customers,” she says.

Green says her team maintains a steady stream of content to keep the virtual conversation going. “We push new content probably daily or every other day on Facebook, and on Pinterest at least once a week.” Around the holidays, the store posts more frequently.

You can even get your customers to pitch in and contribute. “We’re asking people, ‘If you don’t mind, would you photograph that and put it on our wall?’?” says Tommy Glatz, owner of Glatz Jewelers in Aliquippa, Pa. “More and more people are doing that, and more and more of their friends are ­jumping in and making comments on it,” he says, adding that everyone with a smartphone has a camera within reach. “That’s powerful,” Glatz says. Better yet, it gives you a good gauge of your social media impact.

Know your tools

For a truly robust understanding of that impact, however, consider using some of the more popular digital tools in the marketplace.

A handy tool to manage all your social platforms: HootSuite (Daniel Allan/Getty Images)

If you’re big into Facebook, its Page Insights is a tool that can help you measure your page’s performance, including showing you anonymized demographic data about the people who spend time on and interact with your page. “Facebook Insights really gives you a good fundamental insight into your client in terms of demographics and click-through rate,” Worley says.

Search giant Google’s prodigious data collection also comes in handy for retailers who want to see who’s on the other side of the screen. Retailers can see what makes visitors come to their website, where they come from, and how they respond to keywords and other messaging. “The one tool a lot of people don’t know about is Google Analytics, which has incorporated social media so you can look at direct and assisted conversions,” says Cooper.

On social media sites, knowing when and why people respond to your activity is key to knowing how to shape campaigns in the future. “The way we measure directly is through Facebook’s administrative panel, which tells us how many people are viewing our posts,” Green says. “We also track how many repins or likes and comments we get.”

Glatz says buying Facebook-sponsored stories helped generate a 25 percent increase in fans since last November, when he ended all newspaper advertising.

He cautions, though, that you need to be tactical with this tool or it can end up being a waste of money. “You have to be pretty careful about it and make sure you qualify the demographic you’re working with,” he says. “The first time I did it, I was getting people from Florida and California and Puerto Rico. These people probably aren’t going to come in.” Now, he says, he sets up these items to display only to Facebook users within a 25-mile radius of his store.

For working across multiple platforms, Worley recommends a social media management platform called HootSuite. “It gives you a nice, entry-level metric system,” he says. “It can track Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and so on.” He also suggests Bitly, which takes any URL and shortens it. “Then, when you post that into Twitter or Facebook, it measures your social reach,” he says.

Narrow your focus

If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. The experts say it can be easy to get overwhelmed, but there are ways to keep your social media efforts from stealing time from all your other business duties.

“You’re so busy just trying to keep up with it all—especially if you have a smaller staff, you’re just kind of scrambling to have a presence,” Cooper says. “If you don’t have a lot of manpower, I’d suggest focusing on one or two platforms.”

There are a couple things retailers can look at to figure out where to concentrate their resources, Goff says. Start with analytics from your own website to see where people are coming from. If you have a steady stream of visitors coming from Facebook but less than a trickle from Twitter, focus your efforts on Facebook and maybe just post links to your Facebook activity on your Twitter feed.

And don’t forget that low-tech methods work, too. “We always ask first-time customers how they found us,” Cooper says. “Ask customers where they participate in social media. You want to be where they are.”

(Top: Istockphoto)


Socializing Without Selling

Think of social media as a virtual cocktail party. You wouldn’t try to make a sale over canapés. Here are some “small talk” suggestions for social networking. 


Play off pop culture. An event like the Oscars is a great springboard, says Rod Worley of Four Grainer LLC. Talk about the stars’ jewelry and which pieces stood out. Ask your visitors: Whose look did you love?

Introduce and educate. Do you have a bench jeweler on staff? Introduce him or her. “I’ll photograph our repair department, people sizing rings, setting diamonds—things that you might not otherwise see,” says Glatz Jewelers owner Tommy Glatz.

Solicit opinions and encourage people to like, retweet, or repin. Take your inspiration from the seasons: It can be as simple as asking what they’re doing for Mother’s Day or their favorite Thanksgiving side dish. 

Use pictures. Instagram and Pinterest focus on visuals, giving you an unparalleled opportunity to woo consumers (don’t forget the hashtags). 

Think outside the (jewelry) box. “I try to keep it a little bit humorous,” Glatz says. He regularly posts and shares cute pictures, recipes, and (clean) jokes. —MCW


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