Images of a dancing couple, a stooped midshipman and tidbits of a romantic scavenger hunt adorn WR Chance's Facebook page.
The Main Street jeweler has been encouraging these posts for the end result: a smiling fiancee flashing an engagement ring purchased from there. For about six months, the shop has used social media to promote its customers' proposals and generate buzz about its merchandise.
"We're not the most technically savvy people, so Facebook is manageable and a lot of fun," said Julianne Mazzarella, the sales associate who is handling the effort. "We're trying to get our name out there by sharing the experience with people. The hardest part about this industry is we're not selling rings. We're selling an experience. We're selling a moment in somebody's life."
This strategy is encouraged in the jewelry industry, where the inaugural 2012 USA Jewelry Social Media Awards launched in December. MVI Marketing Ltd., which provides research and development for the gem, jewelry and watch industries, honored retailers for their numbers of YouTube subscribers and Facebook fans.
Atlanta-based jewelry consulting firm Four Grainer identified Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as being the sites that generate the most traffic.
"(Social media) is a nonthreatening environment in which you and your clients interact, exchange ideas, build trust and hopefully brand loyalty," Four Grainer officials wrote on an online post titled "Six social media goals for your jewelry store." "The long-term success of your jewelry store may quickly come down to how effective you are with social media."
Locally, other jewelry stores are falling in line. Zachary's Jewelers uses its Facebook page and Twitter feed to display jewelry and solicit customer feedback. Zachary's website also features a link to Annapolis.Guy.com, where the store's engagement expert helps men through the proposal process.
Niland & Company Jewelers uses Facebook to promote its custom pieces and promote upcoming events. The staff also has a few YouTube videos showing them making jewelry. This year, they expect to do more with Facebook, like launching a product of the week feature.
"It's more of an informational, 'this is what's going on, look at this cool piece of jewelry' sort of thing," said Jeff Niland DeLude. "Pretty much out of our marketing for the new year, a great deal has to do with social media."
WR Chance launched its Facebook page two years ago and now has 117 likes. It has been getting more proposal activity in recent months. Initially, the staff of seven works mostly with the prospective groom, who can be clueless about jewelry. They are encouraged to learn ring sizes, even if it means asking relatives or getting the measurements while having a watch battery changed.
"Half do not bring the fiancee and half do it as a couple," Mazzarella said. "It can be a really beautiful dance."
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