By Michelle Graff
Jewelers of America (which became the owner of this publication in February 2015) tried out something new at the recently concluded JA New York Spring show: an “Idea Exchange.”

The idea behind it was to set it apart from regular education sessions by making it more of a roundtable discussion--getting jewelers and, as it turned out, manufacturers and designers to sit down together and share best practices, rather than asking them to sit in a room and listen to someone talk at them.

For this first Idea Exchange, there were two separate tables discussing two different topics: social media and customer acquisition.

We’ll start with social media since that’s where I was sitting.

One of the main takeaways from the discussion was that when it comes to social media, regularity is key.

You can’t post on a social media site once a month or even just once a week. You have to post every day, preferably more than once a day. (There was one person at the table who said they posted five times a day, but I think this seems like a little much. I would go with two at minimum and four at maximum.)

Also key is having photography that interests your followers.

So, don’t be afraid to get creative with your social media shots; take some jewelry with you when you go to the beach or out to dinner at a nice restaurant, one attendee suggested, and snap some shots that you can save for later.

Also, stock up on social media content while at you’re at trade shows that offer interesting backdrops, like Tucson, New York and Las Vegas, and share them later. (For security reasons, it’s not always a good idea to advertise that you’re out of town in real time.) It will be interesting for your followers to see where you go to source your jewelry, and it will also ensure that you have content filed away for days when you are consumed with other tasks or out of fresh ideas for photos.

Though she wasn’t present for the Idea Exchange, I’d also like to loop in a few ideas that I gleaned from Marion Fasel, who participated in a panel on social media that took place on the first day of the JA New York show.

Marion spent nearly 19 years as the jewelry editor at InStyle and recently started her own online magazine, The Adventurine. If you haven’t checked out her site, you should, and I would also recommend looking at the publication’s Instagram if you need an example of a really well-done Instagram account involving jewelry.

While Marion is not faced with the same challenges as a retail store owner, she is trying to do the same thing as jewelers are with their social media accounts--generate interest in jewelry and drive traffic to a website.

Like those involved in the knowledge sharing session, she emphasized the importance of both regularity in posting and quality in photographs.

The posting benchmark Marion has set for herself is four times a day, and she does so at the same time of day too: 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

I have started applying this tactic to National Jeweler’s Facebook posts, using a free, automated posting service called HootSuite to set the 9 p.m. post. (I schedule it right after I do the 3 p.m. post so I don’t forget.) So far, my 9 p.m. posts have performed well, helping to drive traffic to during a time that’s otherwise quiet for us.

If a post doesn’t resonate with your audience, forget it and move on, she said, even if you think it was great. Conversely, don’t be afraid to rerun a post that resonated.

Regarding quality photographs for social media, Marion had some simple tips: use natural lighting and get close up to the jewelry. Yes, it’s good to have an interesting background but, ultimately, the shot should be about the product.

The second table at the Idea Exchange focused on customer acquisition.

The main takeaway was that today, reviews--particularly online reviews--and referrals are the most important ways to get new customers. They must be part of the sales process and, more importantly, employees must understand that they are part of the sales process.

A few of the retailers at the table said they are using online platforms to help cultivate and manage reviews like Podium and Reputation Stacker.

Another, and much more old-school way of doing it, was to hand out business cards to customers at the point of sale for them to share with friends.

Still another retailer said they offer services that usually come with a small fee--changing a watch battery or cleaning a ring, for example. In offering the service, they mention that they would appreciate a review and/or referral.

The customer acquisition table also came to a consensus on a big internal challenge for jewelers that nobody at the table had a solution for: how to motivate staff to make phone calls for clienteling purposes.
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It is not something staff members enjoy doing, the retailers reported, because they feel like it’s invasive, which is understandable in an era when our phones ring so infrequently.

If anybody has anything to add about social media or customer acquisition and retention, feel free to do so in the comments below or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Plans call for another Idea Exchange to take place at the JA New York Summer show (July 23 to 25), so if you have any topics you’d like to see discussed, feel free to send those through too.

Have a great weekend!

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.