*This is the fifth in a series of six articles about Twitter Social Networking and its use in the Jewelry Industry.
Last month we discussed “Push On vs. Pass On” marketing and how to use social media to establish yourself as a credible source of information and expertise in the industry and watch your sales numbers grow.
This month we’ll examine the term “Social Capital” and what it really means in terms of your business.
The value Social Media can bring to your business is described as Social Capital. Many people think the term Social Capital refers to an abstract, neutral resource. However, in terms of Social Media, Social Capital is every bit as important to a business owner as financial capital. While financial capital allows you to buy items to stock your store and pay your employees, Social Capital allows you to flourish within a Social Media network by enhancing your position as a knowledgeable, credible source in the Social Network community.
How does this happen? By structuring your Social Media Strategy properly, your business name can be in front of potential clients on a daily, or even hourly basis. Social Media is about sharing, not selling, so the tone and type of message your business delivers is extremely important in the overall development of Social Capital. A steady stream of Tweets that say “Buy our Blue Sapphire Ring Today,” will never be as effective as a steady stream of Tweets that carry a variation of messages such as:
“Beyond Blue - Sapphires shine in a rainbow of colors including orange, green, yellow & pink!”
“Would you like 2 celebrate your fall birthday with a seasonal gemstone? Sapphire, in it’s wide range of colors, marks fall season birthdays”
or (some customers might appreciate this information in these economically challenging times):
“Did you know? White Sapphires are an excellent diamond substitute. White sapphires are almost as hard as diamonds & very close in brilliance”
All of us in the Jewelry Industry understand the value of “Good Will” as it relates to business. It’s an intangible asset, with a hazy nature. “Good Will” is a term that encompasses the value of brand names, patents, customer base loyalty, competitive position, research and development, custom designs, and other hard-to-price assets a company might own. In other words, all the factors above and beyond a tangible value that would make an investor willing to buy a business. You can’t touch it, or put it in a box, or place it on a scale to weigh, but it does have a place on the books of many businesses when it comes to estimating the value of business. “Good Will” is what happens when customers walk into your store, give you their business and build relationships over the days, months and years of trust, service and mutual respect.
Social Capital (as defined within this article) works in a similar way, except it refers to the connection that happens between individuals on a Social Networking Service. Social Capital grows as connections are made between individuals and firms who assist each other with goods, services or information. These relationships grow stronger through referrals, which properly managed, will help drive more interest to your Social Networking account and ultimately more customers to your door.
Social Capital, along with economic capital, is a valuable mechanism to the economic growth of your business and one whose real value should not be overlooked.
How can your store use Twitter to begin developing Social Capital? Here’s an actual example of how Schnack’s Fine Jewelry (Follow them on Twitter @SchnacksJewelry) in Alexandria, Louisiana used it recently:
Back in October, Schnack’s Fine Jewelry ran a promotion that tied in with a local charity, Hope House of Central Louisiana. The “Fashion for Hope” function spanned several days, and included both a private, invitation only gala, and then a store-wide 2-day sale. A portion of the proceeds from the promotion was donated to Hope House of Central Louisiana and owner Bill Carstens is hoping to turn it into an annual event.
Bill wanted to use this opportunity to promote the event with Hope House of Central Louisiana in a bigger way, so we came up with the idea of a “Tweets4Hope” campaign that could be used on Twitter. Handbag Designer Debbie Brooks, whose line was featured at the “Fashion for Hope” event, generously agreed to help the “Tweets4Hope” campaign success by donating a cell phone bag as a giveaway prize.
Keep in mind that Social Capital is very much like Good Will. It doesn’t happen over night. Schnack’s Fine Jewelry is a great example to use, because Schnack’s has been in business since 1865. Bill Carstens has embraced Twitter for Schnack’s, understanding that it acts as an extension of the business and gives Schnack’s another way to connect with individuals and firms who may need goods, services or information about jewelry or products that Schnack’s carries.
Much in the same way, when Debbie Brooks generously agreed to participate in the giveaway in support of Hope House of Central Louisiana, it enhanced the “Tweets4Hope” promotion by giving it a tangible value for those who were asked to donate - the opportunity for a chance to win a Debbie Brooks cell phone bag.
Someone asked me a month ago - how would you describe your business? And my answer was - “We are Rich Media Specialists and Social Capital Strategists.”
What is a Social Capital Strategist? Someone who has the public relations, marketing, Internet savvy, teaching, training, coaching, listening, business skills to help you thoroughly and properly assess your business needs and lay out a viable plan of action for the future.
Next month - Structuring your Social Network to support all aspects of your business model.