The Facebook Era Arrives

I’ve just returned from Tucson, Ariz., where I attended the Centurion show and the AGTA show.

As always, the warmth of Tucson (figuratively and literally) was a terrific escape and the trip was a chance to see our friends in the industry. Topic No. 1, of course, was the economy and its continuing negative impact on the jewelry industry.

Amid the concerns, there were several fascinating topics of conversation, the most interesting being the rise of Facebook. Suddenly, everyone in the industry is talking about the hugely successful networking site and its impact on their personal and professional lives.

For an industry that once lagged behind the population as a whole with regard to the Internet, it seems we’re finally catching up. JCKonline.com’s traffic numbers continue to boom, with 162,000 unique visitors (individual persons) visiting our site in the month of January alone, our highest monthly traffic ever!

There is a particular sense of a watershed moment with regard to Facebook. It’s one thing for members of our industry to recognize the strategic importance of the Web. It’s quite another for them to incorporate the Internet into their daily personal lives. Through the use of this site and others, we’re finally realizing the role that the Internet plays for millions.

What does this mean to you, the retailer or manufacturer? It means that once again the paradigm has shifted (recall the shift from weekly magazines like Life to television), and once again you need to position yourselves where the traffic is.

Step 1 should be creating personal and business Facebook pages. Once you have a personal page, you can create a page for your business as well. As your network of friends grows on your personal page (you’ll be astonished at how quickly the numbers add up), you can invite them to become a “fan” of your business page as well. As your business fans grow, you’ll have a ready-made list of persons to e-mail on a continuing basis, to inform them of events, charity involvements, trunk shows, new product arrivals, etc.

None of this takes the place of your store or business’s actual Web site. In fact, you want to place as many links (and reasons to link) to your Web site as possible on your business Facebook page. Think of a Facebook page as plopping yourself in the middle of a busy freeway, in the hope of diverting traffic to your site. Go where the traffic is!

Speaking of high-trafficked online events, we hope you enjoy this year’s JCK Jewelers Choice Awards first-place winners, with beautiful photographs beginning on page 67. This year’s contest witnessed a 40 percent jump in judging participation, with over 16,000 votes! It’s our hope that some of the winners will end up in the showcases of your stores and on the fingers, wrists, and necks of your best customers.

Congrats to all the winners of this year’s awards. I look forward to seeing many of you in Munich, Milan, and Basel during the month ahead.

PS I personally created a JCK Publishing Group Facebook page in about five minutes, and we had nearly 200 fans in a few days!