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Is social media wasting your time?

Is your social media marketing really worthwhile? Coleby Nicholson believes it can be provided it has a purpose and you have a strategy. 
The digital world and social media have forever changed the way we do business. Statistics show that consumers are increasingly spending time and money online each year.

While not that long ago people were prepared to debate the impact of online retailing on bricks and mortar stores, today the debate is pretty much irrelevant because the data speaks for itself. However, what is still worth considering is to what level a  store should embrace the digital world.

Jewellers should have an online strategy just as they have a marketing strategy. But too often they don’t! In fact, it’s widely recognised that many jewellers still have no online presence whatsoever, while others have a simple website, sometimes called a “brochure website”, which is static and has nothing more than basic store information.

While it is probably unwise for a business to have no online presence whatsoever, the issue becomes to what level should you take your digital marketing? For some stores a simple static website might be enough (though I doubt it) while others might require a regularly changing, interactive website. For others the right level might include fully functioning ecommerce capabilities for online purchases.

Each level has a differing financial investment but it also has ongoing maintenance and staff costs. It’s horses for courses; not every jeweller requires the same thing just as they do not use catalogue or direct mail marketing the same way. 

However, social media is another matter entirely. First up, we should differentiate between “social media” and “social media marketing”, the former is more for personal use while the latter has a business purpose, to increase sales.

Social media marketing (SMM) is simply another way to interact and communicate with existing and new customers. Of course, when talking about SMM, the first thing that comes to mind is Facebook, and while it might be the largest there are many other free services you can use to promote your business. However, most are misunderstood and, hence, poorly used.

The key word for SMM is “free”; never before have retailers had so many free options available to them. But just because something is free doesn’t mean you should use it, unless you do it properly. And therein lies the problem. Many businesses jump online and create Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts and then don’t manage them for the benefit of the business.

Simply being on Facebook is not good enough. In fact, it could most likely be detrimental to your business if you don’t use it the way it should be used. Simply wanting to “chat” with customers is a waste of your time.

We have moved past the era when social media propagandists said it is was good to have a conversation with your customers – to engage them – and you should not talk about your business. Social media marketing is about business, and should be part of your overall marketing, advertising and PR activities.

Social media has a cost even if it’s “free” and simply engaging customers without a strategy is just as silly as undertaking a traditional marketing campaign without a strategy. Afterall, no business would direct mail its customers just to have a chat!

Mark Schaefer, a social media marketing consultant says, “Engagement is not a strategy. A strategy is a direction that ideally capitalises on a unique value proposition that serves un-met or under-served customer wants and needs. In other words, are you creating something that would be difficult or impossible for your competitor to copy? Is it possible to truly be strategic by “engaging” with customers in a singularly unique way? Difficult, I think.”

Schaefer believes “the entry barriers to creating a Facebook page and initiating engagement, for example, are so low, I think it is unlikely that this can truly be ‘strategic’.”

As all online activity evolves and matures it will need to serve a specific purpose, and Schaefer says it should lead to stakeholder value just as all other marketing should do.

“Social media’s place in the marketing mix is to provide consistent, small provocations and conversations through content that lead to engagement and interactions. Skillfully done, that engagement ultimately results in consumer interest, and hopefully loyalty and meaningful activity (like a purchase).”

Therefore, the question is, are you using social media to generate sales or are you really wasting your time, just because everyone else is? “In other words,” Schaeffer says, “if you’re not careful, you can talk yourself broke.” 

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

SAMS Group Australia

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