Last updateTue, 16 Jul 2019 9pm

The Retailer’s Perspective: What, another change? Chuck takes a look at Instagram

Since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, businesses have had to institute policies about phone use on the job. Before cell phones, it was easier to control because everyone used the same phone in the corner over there. And it was pretty easy to determine how much time someone spent on the phone. You know, since they were over there talking on the phone in the corner and not doing their job. When cell phones became commonplace, all businesses had to create new policies because it became more difficult to control. Mainly because people didn’t have to stand over there in the corner to talk on the phone. But, they were still on the phone, and not doing their work, so it was still equally annoying. 

As a business owner since the Paleolithic era, I’m constantly changing and adapting my business policies with each and every new technology that comes along. Oh, what a time to be alive. I had to give a presentation once at a 25th high school reunion, and one of the observations I pointed out was that the most important class any of us took in high school turned out to be typing. Go figure. 

One of my high school math classes was called ‘Using Calculators’. I’m the only person in the world that knows how to use the M+, M-, MC, MR buttons on a calculator. And, I use those buttons every time I do an appraisal.

When social media came on the scene, the first popular one was MySpace. The goal on that site was to get as a many friends as possible. I never understood that. When Facebook came around, it was a little more personal and most people were a little more cautious about who they let into their inner circle. Then Facebook started selling ads and it became a ‘business and marketing’ platform that all business owners had to start taking seriously. Then, the cool kids shifted their attention to Instagram. And most of us business owners ignored Instagram because we were all too heavily invested into Facebook. Well that’s about to change. Forget Facebook, and put all your money in Instagram now.

There was a major shake-up about a year ago within Facebook that changed the way your ads were displayed and shown. So much so, that the ROI went from pretty good, to ‘that sucks’ overnight. And, if you really dig down deep into the meta data, you’ll convince yourself to make the switch now to Instagram. But, one bonus of Instagram is that every post you create on Instagram will migrate over to your Facebook account if you set it up that way. So, in theory, you’re not leaving Facebook entirely. But, let’s talk about Instagram.

There’s a joke that’s been going around for a while that says; “I wish I had the Kardashian’s talent of not having any talent and making lots of money out of it.” I never understood what it was that those crazy Kardashians did, and I especially never understood how they made so much money doing it. Well, now I understand - INSTAGRAM! 

The Kardashians are what are known as Instagram influencers.  #influencers is a term that I’d never even heard of until a couple of months ago when I attended the Carolina Jewelers Association annual gathering. I have a whole new respect for the Kardashians now that I understand their business model. I still won’t watch their reality show, but I’ll give them props for figuring out Instagram before it was even cool. 

Kim Kardashian has 118,000,000 followers (that’s 118 MILLION followers). Every time she posts something on Instagram, she gets between 1.5 and 3.5 million likes. Companies are willing to pay her big $$$$ to post a pic of her using or wearing their products and posting about it on Instagram. 

Here’s how it works; if you pay Kim to wear and post about the earrings you’re selling, you’re guaranteed to have a couple of million people see them and want them. You can’t get that kind of exposure using conventional advertising. That’s how she makes her money. She wears a pair of your earrings and tells her followers the designer is you. She then posts about how fabulous you and your earrings are. Then, just like that, millions and millions of people will see it and react by buying your earrings because they are so magalicious that even Kim Kardashian would wear them. And, Kim then also gets a percentage of the sales that follow. So, if you’ve ever wondered how those crazy Kardashians got rich, that’s how.

So, how do you make this business model work for your store? For that answer, I went to one of the best in the business, Danielle Miele, a professional jewelry blogger, gemologist, and founder of GemGossip on Instagram. Danielle has built her Instagram brand to 181,000 followers. And, that’s 181K real followers, not computer generated ‘bots’. That’s an important distinction we’ll discuss a little later.

I asked Danielle for advice on how business owners across the jewelry industry could monetize their Instagram accounts and turn it into sales. Danielle said the first thing you want to do is search for micro influencers in your market. If you’re in a market of 25,000 people, Kim Kardashian (several hundred thousand dollars per post) might not be your best use of resources. But, there is usually someone in your market that can deliver a pretty good ROI for you.

Here’s the basic concept of using an influencer. If you boost an Instagram post yourself, Instagram is mostly in charge of who sees that post. But, if you spend that same money with a local #influencer, who’ll post your exact same post on their Instagram page, you’ll get a much different, and probably better, result because these influencers are heavily invested in your particular market. 

There is a whole cottage industry out there of Instagram influencers. These people spend their time creating a following of people that like their style, advice, passions and insights. If they post something on Instagram, their followers will eat it up. And most of these #influencers are at the local level, not at the Kardashian level. So, how do you find and use an influencer for your business?

Danielle said to make sure, from the start, that any influencer you work with agrees to disclose that the agreement is a paid partnership in order to comply with all of the rules of Instagram. Now, just do a Google and Instagram search by putting in ‘your city name’ + #influencer, and start checking out the Instagram pages that appear. Specifically, look at the average number of likes and comments they generate per post. If they’re averaging 10-15 interactions per post (like mine), they might not quite be an influencer yet. Keep looking.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple of influencers that you’re interested in, shoot them an e-mail and ask them to provide you with a screenshot of their ‘insights’. Any legit influencer will do this proudly. Because these people are professional marketers, most will also provide you with a media kit detailing their audience reach and pricing structure. 

Glance also at who is liking the influencers photos. If their followers are ‘bots’ (bots are bad), move on. Bots are fake, computer generated accounts that are usually following a large number of people on Instagram with a very low amount of people following them. Most professional Instagrammers will have a printout that shows the breakdown of their followers and verification that they are true, real followers, not bots. Ask your influencer for this printout. 

Heck, while I was writing this, I got an Instagram message advertising 500 free likes on my posts if I signed up for whatever service they were selling. It was a bot. 

Another bonus with using Instagram influencers is that once they build their business to 10,000 followers, Instagram allows them to add a ‘swipe to buy’ button. Basically, they wear your earrings, tell their 10,000 followers that the earrings, and especially you, are ‘da bomb’, and to just swipe up to buy those earrings. Their followers are dropped right in your online shopping cart buying your magalicious earrings in real time.

One other thing, YOU NEED (yes, I know I’m yelling) to be using the Instagram stories in your marketing. No questions asked, just do it, at least 3-5 times a week. It’s the circle at the top left of your Instagram home page with the blue + sign.

So, go to your Instagram account (if you don’t have one, sign up, it’s free) and follow me at AnthonyJewelersTN, and Danielle at GemGossip.

And then write to me with your success stories out there and we’ll feature you in a future article.

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.