a tool to help you grow your jewelry business
by Rena Klingenberg.
What is “social shopping” or “social commerce”?
It’s a combination of online shopping and social networking. It takes place in online communities where people gather to:
- discover, review and recommend products
- share product finds, trends, and opinions
- create wish lists or “pick lists” (their top choices) of products.
On the social shopping website Polyvore,
users create digital collages of “style collections” like these.
From the consumer’s perspective, social shopping websites shorten the time involved in finding, researching and purchasing a product.
Instead of starting with a Google search and then clicking aimlessly around the web to find and compare products, they can simply go directly to a relevant social commerce site and browse through the trends, product lists and recommendations created by other people who have shopped for similar things, or who have similar tastes.
They also have the fun of “shopping” socially with online friends.
From the jewelry artist’s perspective, social shopping websites can provide powerful research and word-of-mouth-marketing opportunities for small business owners like us.
Social Shopping Sites
Here are a few social commerce websites of interest to jewelry artists:
- Polyvore is an online style community that “empowers users to discover and create their own style” by creating and sharing digital collages that include images of clothes, shoes, jewelry, people, and other design elements.
- StyleHive “connects online style addicts” creating and sharing tagged collections and wishlists of fashion, home goods, etc. Stylehive’s members discover new artists and retailers, and co-create style trends.
- ThisNext focuses on new product discovery, enabling “tastemakers and thought leaders to find the products and trends that are shaping their world”.
These are just a few of the social shopping sites currently online. There are also dozens of general ones, as well as many that serve other specific niches outside of fashion and style. And still more new ones keep popping up all the time.
Items being discovered at the social site ThisNext.
How Can Your Jewelry Business
Benefit from Social Shopping Sites?
You can use social commerce sites like these as research and marketing tools for your jewelry business. Here’s how:
These sites can be a great opportunity to study the jewelry market, because they give you a valuable peek inside the psyche of jewelry customers. Spend time browsing around fashion and style social shopping sites, seeing which products people recommend and why, and what they say about them.
These sites are a treasure trove of free information on what online jewelry shoppers want right now, which price points they find acceptable, how they search for various jewelry items, and why and how they recommend specific jewelry items to their friends.
You can also gain insight into emerging trends, styles, colors, and niches, which can spark ideas for new products, features, or services you can provide.
Or find gaps in your market that you can fill, by discovering what people want but are having a hard time finding.
Paying attention to what social jewelry shoppers say, what they value, what catches their attention, and how they search and communicate can give you an enormous advantage in serving your own jewelry market niche, both online and offline.
Listing your own jewelry items on social shopping sites can introduce new customers to your work as well as provide more incoming links to your own website’s pages and products.
Although most social commerce websites allow you to post your own products in your pick list or account, be aware that other users will be able to rate the items you list. So it’s a good idea to be sure the jewelry you list is representative of your best work and has a sharp, close-up photo.
Encourage your customers to list your products or website on their favorite social shopping sites too. Many of them are likely to be very willing to do this for you, but might not think of it if you don’t ask them to. Consider placing handy links to specific sites, right next to your request, to make it easier for them to recommend your products.
Also, most social shopping sites offer you the ability to “express your style” by displaying your pick list RSS feed from their site on your own blog, website, or other social networking sites.
So by creating a pick list of some of your own products, and then posting your list’s RSS feed on your own blog, website, Squidoo lens, etc. you can help get your jewelry – and your site links – in front of a wide and diverse Internet audience, quite easily.
On all social networking sites, it’s important to genuinely participate as a member of the community.
That means sharing, tagging, and commenting on items and content from other sources – not just your own stuff.
People who promote only their own products or businesses on social sites are usually banned as spammers.