6 Aussie Trailblazers: How we used social media for our brand
Many jewellery retailers and suppliers have already had great success using social media. Discover the real-life benefits of ‘going digital’.
The first step for any business to add social media as part of its marketing strategy is to decide what platforms to use. One should, of course, not only consider the size of the possible audience the service provides, but also the quality of the user. Essentially, are there enough people using the social media platform, and are they the kind of people with whom your jewellery businesses wishes to engage?
Facebook is, unsurprisingly, the first choice and considered by retailers and suppliers alike to still be the most valuable social network for all businesses. “Our favourite would most definitely be Facebook,” says Carati Jewellers’ assistant marketing manager Maureen Benson, “as it achieves a sense of community with our customers, as well as the ability to strengthen our rapport with them.”
Meanwhile, supplier Uberkate casts a wide net on social media with a presence across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram, though founder Kate Sutton agrees that Facebook is still the most valuable, the ideal way to listen to, and learn from, her customers.
“We have an amazing community of engaged Uberkate devotees who chat to us daily on Facebook” Sutton says. “They help us in so many ways: they give honest feedback on designs; spot celebrities wearing our jewellery; and help us come up with names for our new pieces.”
Holly Jackson manages Loloma Jewellers’ online communications and uses Facebook as the keystone of her social media plan. She posts most of the activity from other platforms, like Twitter and YouTube, on the Loloma Facebook page, using it as a home page for the group’s online work. YouTube in particular has also become an essential component of Loloma’s social media plan.
“We have a channel on YouTube and we post all of our videos on it,” Jackson says. “We upload supplier videos if there’s something floating around the social media realm. I also upload our own advertisements and there might be particular products we’re featuring, and we feed it all through our Facebook page.”
Using rich visual media for promotion makes sense in an industry where products strive to be seen. This helps explain why the relatively new image-sharing social media website Pinterest has proved so popular with retailers. Benson rates Pinterest “a close second” to Facebook as a social media platform, and uses it for both research and promotion.
“The world of Pinterest is fresh and exciting,” Benson says. “It’s so much easier to use than Facebook, as all you do is pin your favourite items. It’s also incredibly addictive. We even ‘re-pin’ and share a lot of Jeweller magazine’s posts. It not only helps us keep up to date, but enables us to gather followers from around the globe with a shared interest in jewellery.”
Holly Jackson has also developed a keen interest in Pinterest and has found it an ideal way to connect with people researching jewellery for upcoming weddings.
“We’re really trying to connect with our bridal market locally, and those who are looking for special occasion jewellery,” she says. “We’re finding a lot of that (content) is getting ‘re-pinned’.”
Trial and error
It’s often been said that the Australian jewellery industry lags behind other industries when it comes to the use of the internet, however the people interviewed for this story were chosen for their impressive use off social media. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, with self-guided research and learning from successes and mistakes the most common forms of education for these pioneers.
“There has definitely been a lot of learning through trial and error,” Najo’s general manager Susan Francis says. “However, we have also worked closely with our PR agent and spoken to industry experts for tips and advice.
At the end of the day, anything you do in the realm of social media reflects on your brand and we want to make sure we’re always consistent and deliberate with the image we present of Najo.”
Francis says, as a supplier, she also keeps tabs on what other brands are doing to learn from their experiences.
“There are a couple of other brands we watch closely and some do a better job than others,” she adds, “so we have learned from their successes and mistakes also.”
Jewellery retailer Victoria Buckley credits a book called Living Networks by her husband Ross Dawson as a huge help with her online marketing, claiming that it predicted the incredible scale and importance of social media a decade in advance.
Sutton also says she regularly sends a team member to attend social media courses and seminars and subscribes to several industry blogs to keep up with the latest trends.
What works for one business may not work for another, however there are general guidelines starting to form for successful social media marketing, and many jewellery retailers are finding great imagery and promotions are proving popular.
“Photos posted on our Facebook page generate the highest level of consumer engagement,” says Thomas Sabo Australia brand manager Celeste Ferraris.
“Visually appealing content stands out in a newsfeed, and as fans already love the product, these photos encourage fans to engage. Our fans share which pieces they own, what they love and want to own and personal stories about the special occasions in which Thomas Sabo has been a memorable gift,” Ferraris said.
Francis agrees, saying Najo has experienced success by establishing a very personal feel with its social media. “People want to feel involved and want an insight into Najo that other people might not necessarily have,” she says. “Sharing [founder] Jo Tory’s inspiration, travel photos and posting ‘sneak peeks’ into new developments or pieces we’re working on always gets a great reaction.”
Everett Brookes marketing manager Mike Vasey says success has come from creating a web of content to catch potential new business.
“Without question we constantly see business coming from social media,” Vasey says. “Sometimes it’s exclusively but more commonly it’s from multiple channels, and not exclusively social media. Social media supports what we do but it’s not a solution in it’s own right.”
Sutton also says that it’s important to appear human and make an effort to connect with fans. “Giving a little away about yourself and the brand really helps connect with your audience and makes them feel special,” she says.
Sutton adds that her business runs promotions and giveaways just for the online community, something with which Carati Jewellers has also had success.
“We’ve recently started weekly competitions in which we do giveaways to our fans,” Benson explains, adding, “These are proving to be incredibly popular.”
It seems social media can help bright ideas and exciting promotions to spread quickly, and both customers and companies appreciate improving their relationships with humanised content, but what can happen when it all goes wrong?
The good with the bad
“Social media allows fans to communicate directly with us,” Thomas Sabo’s Celeste Ferraris says. “It is raw, unfiltered data straight from the source.”
She lists that as a positive, but such direct, public exchange can so easily become a scarring experience. There are plenty of brand pages that have been savaged by the public because of a minor mistake. Add to that, merely not addressing customer concerns quickly enough can breed widespread dissatisfaction, even attracting the attention of the mainstream media.
Tiger Airways experienced a backlash like this in 2011 when the airline ignored and deleted negative fan posts from its Facebook page. Nevertheless, Jackson says jewellery retailers should still appreciate that customers have a new outlet to contact them.
“Yes, it’s a public forum and that has its own negativity but, at the same time, it’s possible to turn most negatives into a positive,” Jackson said. “We have had some complaints that have come direct to us through Facebook and no other medium. If that’s the only way customers can express that, then thank heavens they did so we can deal with it straight away.
Our customers also use social media regularly as their means of expressing their thanks, delight and appreciation for service they have received.”
As a company’s database grows, so do the demands of the company’s social media pages, and the 24/7 cycle of the internet means the business day can feel like it never ends.
While Benson says it shouldn’t turn companies off using social media, she admits that the expectations of Carati Jewellers’ Facebook page can sometimes cut into her personal time – she’s even responded to customers online while having dinner.
“The social media realm never sleeps,” Benson says. “Customers can post on your wall, or message you at any time of the night, on weekends and even on public holidays.”
Buckley says another worry with social media is its often confusing and ever-changing sets of rules. “I have concerns about how platforms like Facebook can arbitrarily close down user pages or change their privacy policies. This is why I’m open to new players like Google+,” she says, recommending that jewellers “don’t put all your eggs in one virtual basket.”
The drama meant Buckley’s campaign was restricted from being shared through Facebook; however, it did attract a glut of mainstream media coverage that ultimately benefitted the retailer. Buckley says her brand reached millions of people because of the naked doll controversy and she remains enamoured by social media’s power to spread a message.
“It’s free, it’s flexible, and you can be innovative and have fun with it,” she says. “Come up with an interesting promotion and you can potentially get huge results.”
The next frontier
The above people, and many more jewellery retailers and suppliers like them, have been wise enough to be early adopters of social media as a way to stay at the cutting edge.
While social media, or social business as many are starting to call it, is in its infancy, it should be remembered that there was a time when catalogue marketing, direct mail, and more recently email marketing were all new, but they have all become part of the mainstream marketing mix, just as social media will in due course.
As with anything new, and in an era when things can change quickly, the ‘rules’ of social media are continually evolving, especially as new platforms are developed. However, if you don’t currently include social media as part of your business’ marketing mix, then you could do worse than to heed some of the advice of your industry colleagues above.
Start with Facebook and choose complimenting platforms wisely, based on need; be personable, giving, bold and entertaining; learn from the successes and mistakes made by other businesses; and, most crucially, listen and respond to fans and customers.
Above all, have fun!
YOU CAN BECOME A SOCIAL MEDIA Trail blazeR
Just because others have blazed the trail of using social media to grow their business does not mean the frontier is no longer there for new businesses to claim for themselves.
Opportunities abound in the online world to promote your brand to literally millions of potential customers. What the initial trail blazers have done is venture forth into this new landscape and not only proved that it didn’t harm their brand but it actually helped with their business practices.
However their individual experiences and lessons should not be seen as the only formula for online success. The exact process that works for one business might not work for another because of the peculiarities and personalities of each brand.
The trick for anyone looking to follow in the footsteps of those setting the pace is to ascertain which elements of the online strategies work for them and then customise them to maximise your own success.
Remember, no one discovers anything walking a well-worn path, it may take you in the right direction, but it is when you wander off the beaten track and explore that opportunities open up. There is a wealth of advice, tips, ideas and opportunities in the digital world waiting to be harnessed by your business and to help you along the following pages provide a comprehensive guide to using social media.
However, there’s a whole lot more online, and Jeweller has done all the work for you, gathering into one place a range of websites to ensure you are fully informed before you build, or perfect, your plan to take over the world – one click at a time.
Simply visit: www.tinyurl.com/trailblazeit
• LUXURY BRANDS & SOCIAL MEDIA
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• MASTER FACEBOOK FOR YOUR BUSINESS
• THE BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
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Pinterest: Inspiration for jewellery businesses
LinkedIn: Business networking made easy
Instagram: Photo studio and blog in a pocket
Tumblr: Blog your brand. Brand your blog
• TRACKING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
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Posted May 28, 2012