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Join Jeweller's Social Media Revolution

Many consider that the jewellery industry has been slow to embrace the digital age. Coleby Nicholson looks at how social media is revolutionising business.
Cast your mind back only a few years and you were probably asking yourself, just like everyone else, “What is Facebook?” OK, it was obviously one of many new ways to communicate and primarily began as a play-thing for ‘young’ people. As time passed, ‘older’ people got involved. It was, after all, a good way to stay in touch with the kids.

Then a strange thing happened: somewhere along the way, businesses started to pay attention to this new medium, mostly because of its enormous user base. Naturally, opinion was divided: some saw it as a fad and questioned its role (and value); others saw it as the beginning of a trend that would revolutionise commerce as we knew it.

Fad versus trend
There’s a fine line between the two; a fad is generally a short-lived behaviour whereas a trend develops into permanent change. The internet is littered with business models that almost evolved from fad to trend, but not quite.

With 900 million members in 2012, just seven years after it was first launched, it’s fair to say that Facebook is not a fad, though many continue to question its relevance to business, along with the relevance of the increasing number of other social media platforms and applications that have followed.

Think what you will. Facebook is now the measuring stick against which all social media sites are judged and, while the exact date of social media’s emergence as a valid business tool is not known, the chorus of social media advocates and campaigners almost certainly now drowns out the moans of the doomsayers.


Social media mavens preach to anyone who will listen about the ways in which social media allows a business to reach and engage with existing and potential customers, increase customer loyalty, build community, promote word-of-mouth marketing and receive customer feedback.

The problem is the way most of these advocates speak is as if all these things never existed before Facebook! The truth is that savvy businesses have been building, maintaining and connecting with ‘databases’ of customers for the purposes of encouraging sales and establishing loyalty since well before Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin and Twitter were even conceived.

Not new
Small-to-medium size businesses (SMEs), especially small retailers, have always engaged with their community, only in different ways. Small business owners joined Rotary and Lion’s clubs, were members of community organisations, were active in local football and sporting clubs, sponsored various community awards and even spent time in the local pub. All these activities, and many more, helped businesses to achieve all the things that social media encourages today.

There are no new fundamentals in business, only new methods. The evolution of the internet into a far wider and more efficient business tool has meant that all businesses must adapt and embrace these changes to some extent.

Some pundits even suggest that if businesses do not adopt social media as part of their mainstream activity, they’ll disappear! They go as far as saying that more than 40 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist in a decade if they do not adapt to the current wave of technological change.

Mind you, that’s probably stating the bleeding obvious because a business that never adapted to previous major technological and economic shifts didn’t survive either – again, the current phenomenon is no different to the past!

Social media will disappear
On the flipside, one of the more astute commentators on the subject says that it is social media itself that will disappear. Web consultant Jeff Bullas observed that, “Social media is becoming media and any media that doesn’t provide sharing capabilities and time and place portability will disappear.”

Bullas’ website, jeffbullas.com, proffers that “Fifty years ago, the choices of media were simple compared to today, with essentially only a few media types.” His point is that only radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, television, theatre and posters existed as ‘media’ and while they were all new at some stage, they all eventually became mainstream.

There may be a smorgasbord of new media today but these too will all become mainstream and the term ’social media’ will just wither away in much the same way as the terms ’cyberspace’ or ’information superhighway’ have disappeared.

“The challenge for traditional media is that it isn’t searchable, can’t be watched when you want, can’t be viewed on the hardware platform you prefer (tablet, PC, laptop or mobile), and doesn’t build an online asset for the brand,” Bullas says.

It is the advantages of new media that make it more effective: free access (apart from an internet connection and device); ease of communication with friends, communities, companies and even complete strangers; two-way content sharing and much, much more; however, not everyone has recognised it or is yet willing to accept it, even given all the evidence of the enormous structural change taking place in business.


Or, perhaps these people just misunderstood the difference between a fad and a trend and believe or hope social media will all just go away soon. One only has to look at well-known Australian companies like Harvey Norman and David Jones to witness that even the best business brains can miss the boat. 

Both of these organisations are now frantically trying to catch-up to not only their traditional competitors, but also a bevy of new online competitors as well.

Social media not a strategy
Getting social media right, even when you are onboard, is not easy. Yes, it’s a new way of doing things, but it will not save a bad business that tries to apply existing poor practices online. It’s also not the great panacea for the current woes of the retail sector in general.

According to Candace McCaffery, chief strategy officer for the US based Cookerly Public Relations, social media is not even a strategy.

“Social media marketing has evolved to command the same respect as other marketing disciplines – your presence on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms can help propel your business toward enormous success,” McCaffery writes on bizjournals.com.

She adds, “We see examples everyday of small start-ups launched into celebrity thanks, in part, to a smart online video or engaging Twitter account, but the fact of the matter is that social media will not save your marketing program.”

As many have done before her, McCaffery stresses, “Social-media can have a positive impact on your marketing efforts but you need to make your programs more holistic. Support online via offline with visual reminders and links to your social channels on signage and in advertising. Don’t expect social-media marketing to do it all.”

In addition, social media has effectively ‘democratised’ marketing by giving anyone the ability to reach an audience regardless of budget. With just a few clicks you can start to build a brand, the only issue is how successful you’ll be.

Getting it right
So how do you get it right? Well that depends on your objective and your desired outcome. It will also depend on whether you have a B2C business that deals with consumers as a pure retailer, or if you have B2B operation and supply to retailers. Obviously, the role and use of social media is different for each.

It should also be remembered that social media is a new game and the rules are constantly evolving. Just as what works for one business may not work for another, what works today might not work tomorrow. Worse, just because you are using and participating in social media does not mean you or your business will benefit especially if you do it badly.

While social media may be ‘free’ when compared to the cost of using traditional media, the cost in time can be enormous if you’re getting it wrong, especially when there is no return on this time investment.

Perhaps the biggest problem both large and small businesses encounter when starting their social media journeys is they often fail to correctly understand the word ‘media’. Many soon discover that there’s an art to all this stuff and realise that different skills are needed to be successful. (Some even develop a new found respect for media professionals!)

While many see traditional media as dinosaurs, it is only once people have to create their own content that they begin to realise that engaging with other people and maintaining their attention is an art form.

Think of social media like this: would you go to a bar if you don’t like talking to people or don’t have anything to say? Probably not! Likewise, you will appear pretty silly if the only thing you ever talk about in a bar is the clothes you are wearing. Boring, right?

Effective use of social media involves having engaging, thoughtful and entertaining content, or you’re doomed. Businesses begin to realise why it’s called social media – it’s all about the content. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t bother going to the bar if you don’t have anything to say. Likewise, if you do have things to say but other people are bored then don’t go to the bar.

Therein lies the reason for this special issue of Jeweller. The articles outlined listed on this page aim to provide you with a better understanding of social media and how it can benefit your business.

View social media as a bar full of people and you’d like to meet some of them. Jeweller is here to help you break the ice with the right ones. Read the articles below to be part of the Social Media Revolution:












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.






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Sunday, 19 August, 2018 06:28am
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