Wayne Sedawie is the CEO of Treasuresauctions with 10 years’ experience selling half a million opals and gems online while monitoring hundreds of sellers. Treasures Auctions is the parent company that rubs separate specialized auction website. These are Opal Auctions, Gem Rock Auctions, Coins Auctioned and Jewelry Auctioned. Wayne shares his insights with the following hints and tips for social networking.
Everyone is familiar with Facebook. It has 1.4 billion active users it is the social networking giant. It is the go to site for advertisers. However in the gemstone industry our sellers have differing approaches influenced by where they are based.
As a general statement industry sellers in the USA have a far different approach than sellers in Australia or other developing countries. USA sellers are the masters of social networking and branding. From Hobbyists to professionals they understand the importance of branding for long term benefits. They register trade-marks, copyright logos and place an extra effort for a professional presentation of their product.
In Europe most participants are re-sellers in the industry. They are aware of branding , but it is not as strong as the USA.
Indonesia is the complete opposite to USA sellers. They operate on Facebook but they are all about the product not branding. They are market Bazaar style operators. Make an offer buy me now with no long term commitment or business relationship.
Developing countries like Thailand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all have large gemstone industries. Their social networking and branding has been similar. They are beginning to follow the US in building a brand name with long term commitment to the industry with more a professional approach.
In Australia social networking is somewhere between the product focus market bazaar of Indonesia to below Europe’s social networking habits. The opal industry is mostly mum and dad style operations with little branding as the leading opal retail shop and wholesalers do not use social networking sites. Most stores do not even use the internet for selling opals online. These companies generally view branding as only for companies like Coca Cola or McDonalds and have little or zero branding. There is a lot of room for improvement in social networking and branding for the industry
- Social networking for the Opal and Gemstone industry 2016 to 2020
Facebook has been the main game in town other social networking sites are beginning to show strengths focused more around images and browsing rather than communication. They also tend to be more photographer and purchase oriented than friends on Facebook. These main sites are Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.
Facebook has initiated changes over the past year making it harder for ‘promotional posting’ to show up in friends news feeds. Now only 1-3.5% off friends/likes may see your posting pushing sellers to do more advertising. Facebook technology is great for advertisers. Unlike Google Facebook knows everything about their users.
With Facebook advertisers can target you based on your likes and connections. So if you receive discount funeral promotions ,you might wonder what does Facebook know that you don’t!
Unfortunately this means the days of social networking being free are diminishing sellers will have to spend on advertising. There is only so much content that can go in one persons feed. Facebook believe that if you are willing to spend on advertising you will spend the right amount of time to make the ad interesting.
We have done several large marketing campaigns to get buyers to our store but results have been very low, less than 0.3% of likes led to an actual purchase. Likes will become more irrelevant in the future.
For social networking G+ is a sleeping giant. I see lot of potential for long term sellers on this site. Very few people in our industry use this network yet it has most potential if you are serious about long term branding. It looks similar to Facebook and to date it is heavy in image display. The strength of G+ is in content information not just images. It ranks well in people’s searches. A more professional style is required to Facebook this hasn’t happened yet on G+ but it should be their goal to promote people who take a serious approach to social networking more about branding than selling product.
Google + wants more content like mini blogs of information from 100 to 300 words than just image content
This site is popular with Professionals and high income earners with more than 300 million members including 8 million in China which is unusual for a Western social network. It is an ideal site to promote yourself and company. Its an ideal site long term for our industry because their users are high income individuals. Reports have stated dentists in the US receive more business from Linkedin members than Facebook.
Twitter is a popular site for news and following celebrities it tends not to be used in our industry. However with addition of images and videos it will appeal to more people. Images and videos are much more appealing than 140 character tweets.
At present it’s used by level 2 and 3 tier people in the industry and not by the mainstream though this is likely to change. At the moment it is very popular among 25-35 year olds as it’s easy to take photos and upload from a mobile phone. In the last few years this age group have been serious buyers and targeting this age group should not be underestimated. While incomes might not be high they tend to spend a larger proportion on trendy or fashionable items.
Is a popular site for middle age females. Images can be easily uploaded from a computer by adding a Pinterest button. The site is very popular and only recently the company has been more aggressive with members. It is a good site to advertise on as people do have purchasing/shopping intent whereas other social networks are for connections.
Another image sharing social network that appeals to 20-25 year age group. People share images similar to other image networks. It can be added to a Facebook account so it takes very little effort to list.
Blogging has not been used by our industry but it offers some incredible rewards. I am amazed and staggered how people give so much private and business information on Facebook. An associate uses Facebook and G+ with enticing articles with links to her Blog and she has Google adwords ads on her blog. She can make US$200 to US$500 per quarter.
People have made Facebbok and other social networks strong by giving up valuable information for free and now these sites want you to pay to advertise your business. It’s an incredible effort and I do see the funny side that people give away their assets and information to build an audience. Then they have to pay again to spread the information!
Videos are already a strong marketing tool. So many sellers list under their private name and miss out on branding opportunities. Always link the video to an actual item or to your strongest landing page on your web site or blog.
- Social networking in the future for our industry
Change is taking place at a rapid rate and members need to adjust. Some dos and donts.
Promote yourself professionally first before selling.
Understand your market niche and your strengths and promote these.
Create an image that you are industry oriented with long term plans and mention how long established and link to your store more than a product.
Concentrate on How ,why, when and where in your articles to engage viewers to comment on your post.
If you don’t have a Facebook account you should start one for your business.
Use Facebook only 2-3 times week to list images and relevant information and create excitement
Google Plus list articles 1-2 times a week.
Linkedin open an account for press release type articles.
Consider a Blog linked to your web site or store and keep it constantly updated.
Consider image networks like Instagram ,Pinterest etc
Do join social network groups for your products but don’t bombard in items for sale but 1-2 times a week to promote yourself.
Do set time limits on social network sites. Try to have a set time to spend on social sites as it is very easy to get carried away. Best times are before or after work so you can be productive in your business.
Videos are the future. They are more likely to be shared and are a good way to increase buyer confidence around the product.
Promote any trade shows for the industry or industry competition and member trade.
Don’t lie or be Fake. Computer systems are very sophisticated you must be genuine and make honest statements otherwise your site will get penalised in search rankings.
Don’t list same article on G+ with Facebook.
Image type sharing is ok but not an important information. Post best information on G+.
Don’t link blogs to multi share networks where you information can be shared to hundreds sites .
Don’t preach to the converted
At present some friends in the industry on Facebook share and comment on each others posts.
Facebook can tell that this connection is fake and less people will see your Facebook site.
Don’t underestimate Facebook’s power they are a listed company now and want revenue from your knowledge!
Don’t be a bazaar market style seller on social networks. You come across as a temporary business
only and so do your bargain hunting buyers!
Don’t enjoy social chats over your business, if you do you won’t have time to run your business.
Only join groups that you personally enjoy
In today’s world I place branding and social networking together as they make a statement about your business. If someone wants to contact my business we find a distinct pattern. If a company has branding and long term polices they will contact us through admin on our websites. If they are market bazaar style they will send a message through Facebook.
As we all know first impressions are important. To be a verified seller on our sites the applicant has to go through a vigorous process that takes months before they are approved. Our figures show that most applicants that contact us from Facebook do not meet our requirements but a direct contact on our web site has the highest approval percentages.
The main difference in applications is whether they are industry oriented or not. Over 10 years we have found that sellers focused on branding and members of Trade organizations are solid long term sellers but those with market bazaar mentality always come and go as always selling at bargain prices and cannot afford to spend on branding or improving their business.
How to target buyers?
The answer is worth million dollars if I knew!
Most search engine tools target based on searches and interest. Social networks allow buyers to target by likes increasing the targeting opportunity for buyers. I can share a few stories of buyers who have bought on our sites and targeted sellers through social networks. 99% of people today might not be interested or searching for your product but tomorrow is a different story you just have to have some interesting content out there.
A sapphire seller on gemrockauctions joined group of people on Pinterest who like Yellow. Yes just a yellow colour group! A few months went by and she received a message do you have one yellow carat sapphire? She sent a link to her store and the customer instantly purchased a yellow sapphire.
A seller on Opalauctions joined a Mercedes car group on Facebook and was contacted by a member for a blue green opal she wanted to match the colour of her Mercedes. She was able to sell her a blue and green black opal.
Another seller belonged to a Gun club and was contacted by a member who wanted an opal inlay for a gun handle and an instant purchase was made. You might think these are extreme examples and a lucky win for seller. But that is not the case.
Treat every link or social network as less than a 1% factor. They might seem small but over time they add up. So you need a presence on 20 strong social networks to increase your business by 10%. It takes time but it is the most effective type of advertising.
Another example of blogging is with a friend who had a boat yachting web site several years ago. He was a mad boatie who didn’t care for social network or blogging. One day we checked his site and he had an article about How to tie a Knot! All fisherman know how to tie a knot right? Wrong.
Well his site has 220,000 hits per year on that page and the average stay was for 8 minutes. I suggested he place adwords on it as that would generate around $5000 adwords per annum, but he wanted to sail away instead. It’s not all about selling you have to create value for the user.
Lesson here is to look at the obvious How, why, when and where.
People have an insatiable quest for product knowledge and different lifestyles. Your day to day mundane work may be exciting to people on other side of the world. Social networks of the future can be built around your lifestyle, knowledge and attitudes this is important as you create a brand around yourself and company. Sellers must find their strength and promote this but I must repeat it must be genuine and precise.
CEO Founder Treasures Auctions