By Brecken Branstrator
New York--When the holiday season rolls around, social media can be a great way to reach even more customers and boost sales.

But it’s important that retailers don’t use it to just post pictures of the jewelry they carry or announce a sale; social media requires a little more effort and thought to ensure it’s not only reaching existing customers but also reaching potential future customers and building relationships as well.

Last week, National Jeweler teamed up with Likeable Local to present a webinar called “5 Ways to Use Social Media to Increase Holiday Sales,” led by Likeable Local’s Vice President of Marketing Nicole Kroese and moderated by National Jeweler Editor-in-Chief Michelle Graff.

Below are the five major points from the webinar. The full presentation can be found here.

1. Show personality and product. While it is, of course, acceptable to post products and pieces that the store carries, it’s also important to include stories about culture, employees and customers to show what makes the retailer unique. “As the holidays are approaching and you’re looking to increase holiday sales, you want to convince people why they should buy from you over the competition, and sometimes a personal touch is really all that it takes," Kroese said.

Graff also recommends engaging clients by asking questions as well as providing content, whether it be articles the store created or outside content that is still relevant to customers and that they might find interesting. 

2. Ask for engagement to capitalize on social word-of-mouth. According to Kroese, 77 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a business recommended by family or friends, so it’s important for the store to encourage this with customers.

The best way to do this is to make it easy for customers to refer their friends, whether that’s a landing page on the store’s website meant just to send an email to a friend or a post on a social account that asks clients to tag a friend if they like it. Most people will only be too happy to tell their friends of a place that has done a good job for them.

Engagement also is important because it enhances the reach of a post into more users’ feeds. When a friend “likes” a page or comments on a post, it will show up in front of even more friends. To maximize engagement and figure out what works, Facebook offers a lot of insights on posts that retailers can use to see what their customers like best.

3. Listen and respond to everyone. When people are interacting with the store on any social media channel, employees must respond back. Even if the retailer gets negative feedback, don’t delete or ignore it as that shows them that the store doesn’t care. No response can still be seen as a response, Kroese said.

Likeable suggests the LAST strategy---listen, apologize, solve and thank. The fact that the store acknowledges that a bad incident happened means it’s listening and puts it ahead of the game, according to Kroese. It’s also a good idea to respond publicly and resolve privately--respond directly to the comment where it happened, acknowledge the comment and apologize for any issues, and then let the poster know that the store would like to send them a private message to resolve it.

Graff noted that if the employee or store owner is too emotional to respond in a professional and productive manner right away, it might be a good idea to take some time before responding. Kroese added that Likeable’s best practices say to wait no longer than 48 hours to get back to someone.

4. Advertise on social. As anyone who uses Facebook for business has likely seen, the “Facebook Reachageddon” resulting from the social network changing its algorithm means that organic reach is much smaller now. In fact, for any business that isn’t paying to boost posts, only 1 to 2 percent of fans will see posts organically. Therefore, to be successful, businesses do need to pay in order to see any sort of significant reach.

Given that Facebook allows business to target very specific demographics and that they now also offer the ability to advertise on Instagram at the same time, businesses can more strategic than ever. 

During the holidays, retailers also should look into promoted pins on Pinterest, Graff said. Pinterest users in general have a higher income and a higher rate of purchase from brands they connect with on the social channel, so this would likely be worth a retailer’s time and money.

Overall, be sure that advertising investment is going to a channel in which the store already has a strong presence.

5. Make tools and automation your best friend. It’s important to stay active on social media to remain top-of-mind with customers.

When time is limited, there are a number of tools retailers can use to set up and schedule posts ahead of time and keep on top of responding to comments. This also allows businesses to reach social media users where they really are--on mobile. Tools that businesses can use for this include HootSuite, the Likeable Hub and TurboPost Technology.

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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.