By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
It was August 2021 when freshly minted New York University graduate Julia Hackman (now Hackman Chafé) joined the family business: Intercolor USA.
Her father, Afshin “Alan” Hackman, is a friendly face and beloved dealer in the jewelry space, facts that enticed his Generation Z daughter to join him at work.
“I realized that jewelry was the coolest industry in the world and that my dad was kind of cool, too,” she concedes. “And what better way to learn a business than by being mentored by someone who loves me?”
So she took on the role of social media manager for the 43-year-old importer of precious gemstones. Posting on Instagram, and eventually TikTok, allowed her to both learn about inventory and educate followers. Content includes posts about different stone cuts and qualities, as well as videos of drool-inspiring gem candy set to trending and silly-sounding audio clips. (“It’ll never be enough!”)
Not surprisingly, Chafé’s touch on the @intercolorusa Instagram account has helped it grow by several thousand followers. She also created the @intercolorusa account on TikTok. To date it has a little over 1,000 followers, but tens of thousands of post likes. Chafé’s personal accounts—@juliachafe on Instagram and @jewelswithjules on TikTok—have an even greater following: 41,500 and 77,900, respectively. She’s even created ad content for other jewelry brands, including James Allen and Le Vian of chocolate Diamond fame. “I’ve made over 30 ads for them on my account,” she says.
Clearly, there’s a lot to learn from this third-generation Sapphire dealer—and fortunately, she’s willing to share. Read on to learn some of the secrets to her social media success.
AGTA: What are effective ways to use both Instagram and TikTok?
Julie Hackman Chafé (JHC): Instagram has been more photo based but is now trying to be as much like TikTok as it can, encouraging users to make Reels video content. TikTok is a video platform, and in my world of TikTok, it’s about being real, connecting with your audience, and making them smile and laugh. To be successful on both, be yourself and show people who you are. Reject perfection; Gen Z is sick and tired of Photoshopped and Facetuned pictures. This is one reason that TikTok and videos are popular because you can’t fake perfection as much on video.
AGTA: What jewelry people are using both platforms effectively?
JHC: @stephaniegottlieb is the best on Instagram. I’m locked into SG life! She reminds me that if I were to buy at retail, how beautiful her pieces are. She posts 10–20 stories a day, and she doesn’t have to show me her personality in her feed posts, but I’m locked into her daily schedule and what the kids are doing. Knowing her is part of what you are buying when you buy her jewelry. She lets you experience who she is through her brand, and that’s very appealing.
On TikTok, I think the most successful jewelry account is Olivia Landau of @theclearcut, who has figured out a way to tap into Gen Z, the next generation that is getting engaged. She regularly does interviews with NYC TikTokkers to reach a new audience and educate her audience. She has taught me a lot about Diamonds. If I were buying an engagement ring at retail and was on TikTok, I would think of Olivia first. Plus, she’s constantly hosting big events.
AGTA: What do people do on social that is terrible?
JHC: I have seen a lot of accounts with men with hairy knuckles holding jewelry. This doesn’t do it for me. I can’t look at any more hairy knuckles in 2023. I want to say that some photos and videos are also blurry. In 2023, no one should be curating one piece of content for hours. Accounts should feel effortless even though there’s effort put in behind them. I also don’t like when brands post professional shots on white backgrounds. I never want to see a white background stock image of your product. Granted, if you are a designer, white background shots are important to mix into your catalog photography, but they should not be your primary focus on social media. So, those are the worst things—hairy knuckles and white stock photos.
AGTA: Tell me about posts on your personal accounts versus Intercolor.
JHC: For Intercolor, I’m just choosing what I think would do well with our clients. The stones are really beautiful, so they carry a lot of the work. I’m posting based on what I like, when I see a stone that inspires me, I’ll take a video of the stone. Whatever I’m feeling, that’s what I post about. Sometimes it’s about colored stones that match my outfit and I think that’s really cute. But the end goal of Intercolor posts is selling product, while my personal feeds show how I talk to my friends about jewelry. When the intentions aren’t just to talk to a friend, accounts grow differently. But Stephanie Gottlieb has both figured out!
AGTA: What should you post in your feed versus a story?
JHC: Instagram stories should definitely feature more of a designer’s/retailer’s day to day. Stories are your best chance to interact with your clientele. Whether that be asking questions via stories, running polls, or doing Q&As, stories are where you build the personality behind your brand. Your feed should act more as a catalog of your products. Of course, your brand’s personality should shine through these posts, but there’s less of a chance to interact with your clients.
AGTA: How long should videos be?
JHC: I try to stay under 30 seconds for video. TikTok is actually pushing people to make longer videos, but I’m not making a 3-minute video. I don’t think anyone will watch that long.
“I have seen a lot of accounts with men with hairy knuckles holding jewelry…I can’t look at any more hairy knuckles in 2023.”
AGTA: How do you create a viral post?
JHC: Celebrity content can be part of a zeitgeist moment, and ridiculous pieces do very well for me, as in anything worth over $1 million. Sometime less A list celebrities can go viral, and there’s usually a timeliness factor to those posts. I’ll post “This is how I would style X celebrity.” My fave ad posts to do are products on celebrities. For example, a celebrity wore a product to an awards show, and the brand can give me a little extra info that I wouldn’t ordinarily have about the pieces.
AGTA: What are your best tips for jewelry people to use both platforms?
- Be yourself. Authenticity is key. Reject perfection.
- Ask followers what they want to see. Look at Stephanie Gottlieb, she is running her Instagram based on user requests. She tells people to ask her anything, and then she creates content from what they want to know.
- Educate your customer. It’s a great way to start engaging. Tell people the origin story behind pink Sapphires.
- Show your face. It’s important for designers to show themselves, though it can feel embarrassing at first, and it takes a lot of courage. Stephanie Gottlieb and @ringconcierge show their faces and their daily lives to connect with their audience. That’s the way of the future: the designer or store owner showing their face to get to know their audience on a more personal level.
- Tell your customer personal stories that connect you to your jewelry. Erica Courtney does a great job with that, sharing about stones when she travels. If you traveled to Madagascar to get a Sapphire, show people.
- Invite fans to ask questions, get feedback. To design future pieces, or what content to show moving forward.
- Bring more personality into your work. You’re selling jewelry but you’re also selling yourself as part of your jewelry brand.
AGTA: Is there anything you would like to add?
JHC: Our post-pandemic world is changed and way more social focused. The pandemic forced a lot of jewelers to realize that social media is the best way to sell your product. On social, you don’t need to convince anyone, they decide for themselves. It’s such a powerful tool. If you are not taking advantage of social media, you are losing a lot of money—a lot of money. It’s very important to teach the new generation about you and your product on TikTok. You just don’t know who social media will reach.
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