Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Social Media Tools Add Zing to Bling

The Fashion Institute of Technology was buzzing earlier this month when about 100 ladies from the Women's Jewelry Association gathered there for their annual "Women in the Know" Conference. Jane Seymour was the keynote speaker, looking as gorgeous as ever. She was promoting her new Open Hearts collection for Kay Jewelers, but if she could bottle whatever it is she's doing to look so good she'd make millions more than she already has.

I was there to give a presentation on Web 2.0 Tools for Jewelers and talked about how some sites are making the most of social media. (I've added my powerpoint Presentation below). Tiffany & Co. does all its social networking on their Facebook page, which has over 800 fans. Zales and Blue Nile have taken a cue from Amazon and allow customer reviews, while Ross-Simons has 85 product videos on their site, as well as some on their YouTube channel. They're quite pretty but need a little more of a personal touch to make them less "HSN".

Adding a presence on social networking sites is a great way to put your products in front of a whole new audience of people that would not have found you otherwise. Jewelry is a category that's well suited for social engagement and discussion and reviews. However, most companies in the space haven't embraced "new media" quite yet. Individual designers on the other hand, are plentiful on the blogosphere, which makes a lot of sense since blogging does wonders for search engine optimization.

During lunch I chatted with Andzia Chmil, owner of who has a blog where she regularly updates her readers on specials, product information and giveaways. She shared with me the recent success she's had with mommy bloggers.

"We gave away $100 gift certificate. To win people had to go to our site and choose a piece they liked and then go to and write about it. It gave us 700 more unique visitors a day. Our traffic on a slow day is like 500 so when you increase it by 700 more people it's huge for us. Through Google Analytics we saw how many direct buys were coming from the mommy site - people that were so tempted they had to buy something right away. This was over Valentine's Day weekend and it went so well that we're doing another one with Mommy Goggles, which showcases a product a week. They were featuring ladybug jewelry so they showed our pendant & bracelet. It works the same way - people select they piece they like on our site and then write about it on the mommy site."

Holly, Andzia's daughter, added that through BloggyGiveaways, they reached December-level traffic for four days during a time of year that's usually flat for them. For the promotion they paid a nominal fee, plus the products. They also received terrific feedback through comments people left about various designs they carry and the way their website is presented. With the MommyGoggle's contest they just sent the product. They shopped around and reviewed various other blog giveaways, and found these to be the best. "It was very fun, we got our brand and the idea of amber itself out to fresh people we don't normally connect with", says Holly.

Another social media tool Andzia likes is the "Tell a friend" button. "About 10-20% of the people who visit us use it and it's great because you have women pick out things and tell a friend or a relative what to get their girlfriend or wife and you get to see the one they choose. We see what they said to them and then 5-10 minutes later the order comes in, and it's from a different IP address so you know it's working," explains the jewelry designer.

Additional resources:
Here's a press release with more coverage of the event.

Here's other jewelry related posts I've written:
Using Video to Advertise Your Business
Making Sales with Facebook and Flickr

Like this post? Please digg it, or stumble it or send it to your favorite social networking site by clicking the bookmarking link below.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Honoring Female Photographers on Int'l Women's Day

I'm a huge photography buff. With all the running around I do it's hard to make time to notice the little things, but when I'm confronted with a powerful image, it almost demands that I stop and take a moment to contemplate it for a while, and when I do it brings my mind down from 100 mph to maybe 20. Like taking a relaxing bath. In real life it's impolite to stare at someone, but pictures want us to gaze at them, at our leisure, unhurriedly. Taking a long, hard look and noticing the details that make it special. And that's why I quickly signed up for the panel & slideshow entitled Women In Photography hosted by B&H Photo this past Sunday. It was in honor of the little known (at least here in the US) International Woman's Day, which is March 10th.

There were five fantastic women of all ages presenting their 'best of the best' portfolios. Barbara Bordnick started out as one of the only women fashion photographers in the industry and then went on to do portraits (she did an amazing series of women in jazz which you can find in her site), and nudes, and then - the flowers, which came about as a happy accident when she had to find something to photograph quickly. Wow. Georgia O'Keefe taken to the upteenth level. Heavenly.

Then came Arlene Collins, who contrary to Barbara, does her work outside the studio, in the outdoors, or on location. She showed us some early shots she took of boxers in the Bronx, rodeos in New Jersey (see right - cowboys in the Garden State - who knew?), and later the Middle East and New Guinea.

She was followed by Jill Enfield, who specializes in hand coloring photographs (like the one on the left), and Scout Tufankjian, who followed Barak Obama on the campaign trail and was able to document all the different ways that people responded to the candidate.

Kate Engelbrecht came last. She started out shooting weddings and then moved on to family documentaries, or still photo essays that tell "a day in the life" of a family. Looking to move into a new direction, she recently created The Girl Project, to chronicle what it's like to be a young women in today's world. Her goal is to get 5,000 girls to participate so that she can compile a book and then do a traveling show. At first she sent out emails to her friends and family asking them if they knew and teenage girls for the project. Sadly she only got back two replies. But then she created a Facebook page and it went viral. (I have to include at least one element of social media in my posts, and here it is!).

Kate sends out disposable cameras to whoever signs up and then she uploads them onto the TGP site. Some of the girls also get interviewed on the TGP blog and the pictures also get posted on the TGP Flikr page. The images really tell a story. They give us an inside peek at how teenage girls see themselves, and Kate says she was surprised to find that they're more innocent than they seem. Right now she's bankrolling this all herself, but I can see how this could be a perfect fit for a sponsor. Dove, are you listening?

Kuddos to B&H for setting up such an inspiring event (for free!) , but it's very smart of them to provide photography fans with another way to feed their passion, to learn something and interact with each other, while at the same time visiting the store (and perhaps buying something).

How are you celebrating National Women's Day?

If you like this post please digg it, or stumble it, or Facebook it by clicking the button below.