As Jewelers Branch Out Online…

Media_httpmichaelsche_xxgcw

It has been fascinating to watch my industry awaken to Social Media.  Every day I am surprised by who has taken the leap and set up a Facebook profile or Fan page, glad to have a new blog to read from a brand or industry insider I respect and amazed at the speed of which the social shift that could have been frightening is being embraced.

I am a firm believer that we will be seeing a lot more of this as the trend continues to grow and more and more jewelers get social online.  Social Media has already been covered by JCK, MJSA is currently working on an article and most recently Frank Stankus from JewelersResource.com has offered up a way for jewelers to get started in Social Media.  It is an interesting article and I highly recommend that anyone who is looking to get familiar with the social shift take the time to read it.

One of my favorite qualities of Social Media is the opportunity to have open venues for discussion and debate.  While the Jewelers Resource report offers a lot of insight, there are some areas that need to be considered.  I wholeheartedly agree with their reasons for creating a presence in this space.  Social Media allows brands to connect with the end consumer and offers retail jewelers incredibly powerful tools to enhance relationships with their customers.  If used properly and for the right reasons, Social Media has the potential to enhance your presence in the marketplace for the better.

Where I tend to differ from the report is on where to begin.  Frank suggests a three step strategy for getting started:

  1. Write a blog – While blogs play an essential role in the Social Media shift, they should not be entered into lightly, especially when representing your brand or store.  You want to put your best foot forward when you reach out to your customers and familiarity with the social landscape will play a large part in getting your blog right.
  2. Set up a presence on Facebook – This tops my list of places to get familiar with Social Media.  Facebook is easy to use, you will know at least 50+ people regardless which generation you belong to and it will be a great opportunity to build an audience of people who want to hear what you have to say.
  3. Subscribe to Google Alerts – While Google plays a major role in Social Media, their Alerts can become cumbersome if you don’t know what to look for.  RSS readers are an essential part of making the most out of listening posts such as Google Alerts.  Sites like Google Alerts and SocialMention are great for monitioring your brand or industry, but they can overwhelm your inbox if you are not careful.

These are all great tools, but with the exception of Facebook I would offer an alternative starting point for getting your feet wet.

  1. Create a Facebook Profile – While Frank and I see eye to eye here, I would offer a few suggestions.  At first, join Facebook for the personal aspects.  Be sure to update your profile at least every other day and read through what your friends are doing daily.  This should take about five minutes a day, will get you excited about Social Media (or let you know that it isn’t for you) and begin to create a pattern of making these sites a part of your life (in the same way that you check your email).  Avoid self promotion (especially at the beginning) and allow yourself to get comfortable.  You will quickly find effective ways to promote your business naturally. 
  2. Set up a Google Reader account – RSS (Really Simple Syndication) makes it easy for you to consume a lot more content than you currently do.  It takes the work out of web surfing and will dramatically reduce the time you need to spend jumping from website to website.  By subscribing to a websites “feed” your RSS reader will automatically bring new content to you.  Feed Readers can also be used to gather content from sites like Google Alerts instead of overwhelming you email inbox.  Another advantage is that Google Reader also allows you to share interesting stories that you find with your friends who use this service or sites like Facebook.  The bottom line is that if you are serious about Social Media you need to begin reading a lot more blogs and websites in order to refine the way you will use these new tools.  Listening is an essential step in finding your bearings and will help you to keep ahead of the curve on the next big trend.
  3. Use Steps 1 and 2 – Simply setting up profiles is not going to get you anywhere, you need to use these tools on a very regular basis in order for them to have value.  If you are unwilling to commit to living a part of your life online or uninterested in reading up on your industry and the shifts that are happening in the way we market, get out now.  It will only have a negative impact on your business if you create a presence and abandon it.  Communicating personally and listening professionally will allow you to find out if you can leverage Social Media without the risk of harming your business.

The beauty of Social Media is that there is no right way.  But there is definitely a wrong way and I am a firm believer of easing into these tools before creating a robust presence for your brand or store.  Be sure to give Frank’s article a read; it highly relevant to anyone in the jewelry business today and will give you a lot to think about.  While I feel differently on where to begin, he offers solid insight into why Social Media is not a fad and should be seriously considered as part of your marketing and outreach efforts.  If you ease in as I have suggested or jump into the deep end of the pool with a blog, it is hard to argue the opportunities that Social Media offers to every aspect of the jewelery industry.

Let me know you think of Frank’s suggestions and be sure to let me know how you got started (or plan to start out) in the social landscape.