Now or Never: Why Jewelry Retailers Need to Embrace Social Media

June 2, 2019  |  Rachael Taylor  |  SPONSORED BY: RDI Diamonds

Many jewelry retailers are behind the curve when it comes to social media.

Globally, about 10% of all luxury sales are made online, according to research by analyst Bain & Co. This is set to rise to 25% by 2025, making social media — a powerful driver of web traffic and an emerging sales platform — ever more influential for jewelers entering the digital fray.

One of the challenges of social media is that the landscape is constantly in flux. Algorithms change, wiping out previously high levels of follower engagement.

Platforms gain and lose in popularity, with jewelry influencer and social-media expert Katerina Perez describing continuing to post on Facebook as “flogging a dead horse.”

Keeping up with the fluctuations can feel exhausting, yet social media’s power as a retail concept is not in question.

Lackluster segment

From luxury top-tier brands to the cheap and cheerful, fashion and beauty have dominated social selling, while jewelry is underdeveloped, some experts believe.

“There remains significant room to improve [digital offerings in jewelry], and brands must do so quickly by looking to disruptors and leaders like Tiffany & Co. and Cartier, who have long embedded digital as a core component of their overall brand strategies,” reads a report by Gartner L2.

Tiffany & Co. is often touted as having the greatest social reach of all the jewelry brands, and the numbers back this up. It wields greatest influence — as do most jewelers — on Instagram and Facebook, boasting more than 10 million followers on each platform.

In terms of its content, each post is driven by a product, yet the conversation often hedges around other subjects — love, sustainability, pets and strong women.

Organic reach

“Brands are talking to consumers [through social media], not in a mono-directional way, but engaging in a real conversation across different topics,” says Bain & Co partner Claudia D’Arpizio. “And these topics go beyond the product, and the brand.”

Replying to messages and comments, and liking and posting is vital to keep ahead of algorithms that will bury what they consider to be lazy users, according to Perez.

As brands build up a following organically, sales should increase.

Though North America is yet to match the social selling achievements of other markets, some are finding success there.

In Asia, on the other hand, 70% of Generation Z consumers buy directly from social media, according to Hootsuite’s “The State of Social Media in Retail 2019” report.

Canadian-born, Bangkok-based designer Kat Florence, for example, has been known to sell jewels for tens of thousands of dollars through Instagram stories. Florence and her business partner Don Kogen use the channel to create their own version of a TV shopping network.

Kogen shouts loudly, almost comically, through the internet to sell the rare and pricey treasures he has collected over a lifetime of gem hunting. The format bypasses all the rules of luxury, yet it works.


‘Shop the feed’

Other, more formalized, methods of selling include Instagram’s shopping feature, which allows retailers to offer an immersive social retail experience. Viewers can click on a ring, for example, and see a pop-up tag with the name of the item and price.

This will then take them directly to a page where they can purchase that item. Many stores are also now adding sections to websites where visitors can “shop the feed,” with a stream of lifestyle photos mimicking the retailer’s Instagram profile that link through to sales listings.

A new development has been the merging of online and offline. Snapchat, a platform for younger consumers with 71% of users aged under 34, has teamed with Amazon to allow people to search the e-commerce giant’s inventories by taking a photo of something they want and uploading it.

Boosting content

Video content is becoming hugely important in social selling. In a study of 5,500 consumers by video marketing company BrightCove, 74% of viewers drew a connection between watching a social video and making a purchase.

Social media has now entered what experts are calling the “pay-to play era,” with algorithms smothering organic content in favor of paid-for posts. A quarter of all Facebook pages pay to boost posts, and the platform’s click-through prices have increased 61% in the past year, according to Hootsuite.

This is the new reality retail finds itself in, and as social media’s influence continues to grow, jewelers hoping for a slice of the action must — and should — pay fealty to Silicon Valley.

Did you know?

10% of all global luxury sales are made online, according to research analyst Bain & Co.

Success Stories

● Ylang23 was the first US designer jewelry retailer to go online, establishing its presence in 2000.

It has more than 98,000 combined followers across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Its posts are often light and
humorous — such as the piercing of a chocolate Easter bunny to create a seasonal ear stack. Its Instagram followers can click to buy using the shopping function.

● Twist (a Portland, Oregon designer with over 60,000 social followers) has invested in video content, partnering with Northgrown Film to make a series of mini interviews with its designers, including Fernando Jorge, Joseph Brooks and Elie Top.

The videos are hosted on Youtube, shared through social channels and also posted at the top of the related designer’s page on its website.

● Catbird is one of the most impressive independent jewelry stores online when it comes to the numbers. The Brooklyn store and workshop has more than 437,000 social followers, plus more than 1 million unique monthly viewers of its Pinterest account.

Its posts, each tailored to the individual platforms, are a mix of product and subtle personal insights into the team.

● Greenwich Street Jewelers is great at using its social channels to promote in-store events, and the celebration of complementary tonal colors on its Instagram wall make it a joy to behold.

Also, the Manhattan jewelry store’s Instagram story highlights are a master class in classification and must-have topics.

Did you know?

70% of Generation Z consumers in Asia buy from social media, according to a Hootsuite report.

Image: Shutterstock


Now or Never: Why Jewelry Retailers Need to Embrace Social Media

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