It's Friday. Every Friday, I start out by saying "This is the Friday website review edition of the Daily Golden Nugget." I'm sure you guys are tired of reading that. Anyone want to suggest a hashtag that alliterates with Friday? Send your suggestions to me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or just email them to me.
So it is Friday, and it's review day. The goal is learn something from a random website of a random retail jeweler chosen from a random city somewhere in the U.S. This week that random somewhere is Raynham, MA.
Using Google Chrome in incognito mode I searched for "jewelers in raynham ma" and saw these results:
The given results show the name Trends Jewelers as the top listing in the Local Pack and then 7 out of the 10 organic listings. However, none of those organic listings are for the Trends Jewelers website. I have a choice here; I could move on to a different town, or I can look at how this jeweler presents themselves online through all these different properties.
I decided to just go with this one.
I'll look at the Trends Jewelers Facebook page because it appears first in the organic list. Here's what I saw:
They have 916 fans as of this review, and they have not posted since July 15, 2015. That's 3 months ago; prior to that, they were posting quite often.
Most of their Facebook posts were educational, with links to several blogging websites like jewellarytalks.com shown here:
The jewellarytalks.com blogging site is very well written and it has good photos. It looks like a blogging service of some type. The format of each blog is really good, and it's a format that I wish other jewelers would use on their own blogs. I can't identify the ownership of the website, or the reasoning behind it, other than that it's located in Bangladesh.
Sharing someone else's blogs to your Facebook is okay if it's a trusted source, like JCKonline.com, but I get nervous about sharing blogs like this because the owner can't be identified. Was this a paid service that might one day disappear, leaving the Trends Jewelers Facebook with dozens of dead links?
Trends did share stories from JCKonline.com, Buzzfeed.com, Bridas.com, and several other great sources, but they equally shared stories from questionable sources. When it comes to sharing blogs to social media, you should create them on your own site and share them that way. This method brings people back to your site instead of you sending them to a random 3rd party site.
With all the activity they had on Facebook, I felt it was a real shame that they didn't have an online product catalog to share jewelry from. Way back from April - September 2014, they were posting Alex and Ani photos and remount event announcements, but since then, their Facebook page has turned into more of a public service announcement for jewelry education and trends without any attempts at selling or driving customers to the store.
On the other hand, they frequently requested that people refer new customers to them. They paid an outside service to entice users to refer a friend. This is what it looked like on Facebook:
SIDE NOTE: I do my best to document my honest first impressions as I work through the website discovery process every week. Clicking on this Refer-a-Friend link gave me a clear understanding of what Trends Jewelers was doing, and who they were paying...
Not So Likable
This is the Refer-a-Friend landing page:
The URL shown there says it all to me: http://likeab.ly/TrendsJewelers
I recognized the "likeab.ly" as the Likeable Local and Likeable Jewelers service. Likeable Local entered the jewelry industry by way of an association with JA. Their presentations at the JA shows are usually well attended because Facebook is confusing for beginners.
The Likeable Local service is easy to use, and seems to make a lot of sense for those who don't have the time to create their own content. I now understand why the jewellarytalks.com was so well written and organized, because it's the blogging website that Likeable offers to their paying customers. According to the pricing shown on the likeablehub.com website as of this writing, you have to pay $299 per month for use of the industry specific content that you want to share to Facebook.
Now that I've identified their jewelry specific content website as jewellarytalks.com, I wonder what Likeable would do if you started sharing blogs from it without paying? The jewellarytalks.com website doesn't have any licensing or ownership information on it, and anyone can find it through a Google search.
On the surface, the concept behind Likeable Local seems solid, in that they offer you a micro website that you can use to refer-a-friend, and they offer you access to jewelry industry specific blogs that you can easily share to your Facebook page. What they don't offer is any type of pizzazz, enticing discovery, or human engagement, which is what you need to make social media work for you.
Sharing content socially just for the sake of sharing is not beneficial for your business. From what I can tell, Trends Jewelers hired Likeable Local in October 2014 and canceled the service in July 2015.
Sharing the Jewelers Blog
Prior to hiring Likeable Local, Trends Jewelers was using another popular jewelry industry blogging service called TheJewelerBlog.com. Scrolling through several years of Facebook post, I can see that Trends Jewelers was using this service between August 2012 and March 2014.
TheJewelerBlog takes a different strategy for sharing to Facebook. They set up a special website for every jeweler so it looks like the jeweler owns the blog. They then share those blog posts to Facebook. The way they share to Facebook is a lot nicer, and more engaging, than what Likeable Local does.
That special website is part of paid services TheJewelerBlog provides. They delete it when you stop paying them, which means 20 months worth of Trends Jewelers Facebook posts now have dead links. This is the exact problem I mentioned above with dead links. Most people won't dig too far into the archives of your social media posts, but if you are going to spend money on building a blog, don't you want to be investing it in for the long term without worry that someone will delete it and break your social media accounts and your website links?
Reading Between The Lines of Social Posting
Prior to hiring TheJewelerBlog, Trends was posting their own photos to Facebook and engaging customers. After 20 months of paying for TheJewelerBlog, they finally realized that service wasn't creating social engagement, and it wasn't bringing them customers. Just to be clear, your social engagement is what draws customers to you, not the stuff you share. Your shared stuff helps to initiate the conversation, but the correct process needs a human to be involved.
After discontinuing TheJewelerBlog, Trends then starts to post their own photos of products and events again, which lead to more direct customer engagement. They then hired Likeable Local in October 2014 to take over.
When Likeable Local posted to Facebook they didn't get the customer engagement that Trends' own employees were getting. Obviously Trends Jewelers wasn't seeing a value in Likeable's service either.
While both services have merit, the approach Trends took was wrong because they let the hired company do all the work. The better approach would have been to let the hired company share those blog posts, but Trends should have continued to post product photos, store events, and engage with the customers.
Many jewelers have told me they do not have time to spend on their social media, and that it would be a blank social account unless they hired someone else to take care of it for them. I always remind those jewelers that social media is part of the new advertising paradigm, so ignoring it will just lead to their downfall.
This website review turned into a case study of what happens when you hire TheJeweleBlog and Likeable Local. I personally disagree with the methods of both of these services because neither one helps to build the needed long term digital footprint of a business. Likeable Local doesn't provide any ownership, and the ownership provided by TheJewelerBlog is deleted once you stop paying them.
It's always better to install your blog into your own website and spend the needed resources to build that blog up and share it to social media.
Speaking of The Website
It turns out that Trends Jewelers does have a website. I found it linked from their Facebook page but nowhere else.
Here's the URL:
I didn't link that URL because, according to the website, they are having a retirement sale right now.
This is what it looked like when I visited:
This is a single page website that had no SEO value, and Google wasn't even able to identify it. Take a look at the SERP at the beginning of this review and you'll see again that the website is not listed in the Local Pack. Obviously if Google couldn't identify this website it won't help any potential customers.
As a jewelry business coach I'm always saddened by store closings and retirement liquidation sales. Stores close for countless numbers of reasons that might be fixable if the store owner had asked for the help of a business coach, accountant, or a good marketing agency. Naturally, the business owner also needs to be willing to accept the advice and implement the solutions they were offered.
It doesn't matter if you want to call it a "going out of business sale" or a "retirement sale," the truth is that a thriving business would never go out of business. With a thriving, profitable business, the owner could easily sell it to an employee or find a new owner, and then stay on as a consultant to have a smooth transition.
Looking back over the last 3 years Trends Jewelers is probably wondering what they could have done differently to prevent the point they're at today. Sadly, it looks like all the money they spent with TheJewelerBlog and Likeable Local turned out to be worthless for growing their business. Yet, the sales pitches from both of those companies say they help to attract new customers.
As it turned out, Trends Jewelers was ignoring their social media account for the past 3 years, and it probably did contribute to their downfall.
That's it for this case study. The opinions expressed here are purely my own. I'll see you next time.
FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler that I'm doing a review. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this review if they examine their Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This review is completely impartial and all my comments are listed in the order that I discovered them.