Of course social media can be great fun, offering an excellent set of tools for managing your social and personal life. But these days an increasing number of enterprising local businesses are turning to the power and leverage of sites like Facebook, as a major part of their business strategy.

Tarick, the somewhat elusive character behind the success story that is Gold Rush Javea, is a good example of the way a new generation can take a fresh look at a traditional industry, and bring a newly social approach to making things happen. As a London lad originally, he moved to Spain in his teens and completed his education out here. Like many young people whose folks moved to Spain in better times and established family businesses, he went on to work in his parents bar initially. But Tarick showed an enterprising streak early and moved on to run his own bar for eleven years, during which time he developed a range of local contacts and connections.

Clearly a man with an eye to opportunity, he was able to spot a changing business trend, and a potential gap in the local market. Of course gold buying as an industry is far from new, and there are many established players in the market in Spain and the UK… The price of gold, a stable and reliable commodity, has rocketed in recent years of economic turmoil – in conjunction with a growing need for many people to realise assets such as jewellery into cash.

“My business partners have been gold buying for four years, and it seemed interesting. So I went to work with them and learnt how it works – the stamps, identifying the karat, weight to price ratio, and how to spot a fake!!”

Tarick opened Gold Rush in Javea’s Arenal 6 months ago, and ‘rush’ has been the operative word ever since. But how did social media play a part in this success story?

“Social media has played a huge part in promoting our business. I was surprised during my training as to just how much gold is worth, and amazed that the general population had heard about the gold boom but didn’t realise that most of us can have a slice of the gold rush”. So a key part of the initial communications strategy was about sharing information – communicating the potential, for people facing perhaps precarious financial times, that they might have overlooked potential assets in the form of jewellery and other bits and pieces that could now be realised as cash.

“Using mainly Facebook and local selling sites, we’ve been informing people in a straight up and humorous manner that even a few odd earrings and a snapped chain is worth plenty of money, and the amount of people who have then gone on treasure hunts around their casa is amazing!” Tarick writes status updates that attract comment and engagement, enhancing his Facebook Edgerank and staying in the news feeds for longer, by using humour and sharing little stories – this is what social media is all about.

How that jewellery from the ex brings you nothing but regret: “those dodgy memories will melt away in our furnace!” A couple who had scoured their house for bits and bobs of broken and unwanted gold and left clutching €900 to book a dream cruise. A master of marketing, he uses Facebook successfully to sell the ‘sizzle not the sausage’, focusing potential clients on the benefits and feelings they will get from using his service. Using local information and selling groups on Facebook, people are regularly reminded of what they could gain from cashing in any old bits of gold – but because the message is funny, irreverent and in your face, different each time, it doesn’t matter that it’s frequent – a refreshing change from many local businesses who post the same boring commercial over and over.

The outbound sales message is backed up though, with a significant balance of social proof. The success of Gold Rush is evidenced by the extensive reputation and testimonials flowing their way. After all, there are no shortage of places willing to give you cash for your gold these days, unbelieveably some people in the UK still put their heirloom items into prepaid envelopes and wait for a random payout – but they only do this because few of us know what our stuff should be worth, whether we’d be getting a good deal. What people clearly value from Gold Rush, and can comment on directly, is the transparency. Having their items weighed in front of them, the karat marks explained and the calculation based on daily rates clearly spelled out for them, followed by instant cash if they wish to transact, creates trust – and that works.

“People have been really pleased with our service skills, especially our honesty regarding the purity. So many times people have thought their item maybe only 9 karat but is actually 18 karat so they get double the money… The trend now seems to be that these happy clients get on their local sites, and give us a review saying how pleased they are with service and price, and this has created an avalanche effect.”

Gold Rush Facebook profile – soon to be replaced by a proper Page – is full of testimonials from named identifiable individuals who have used the service and are full of praise. These spontaneously offered endorsements are at the customers own volition, and they are keen to point out that discretion is an inherent part of the service. Even though changing times have made many of us happy to talk more freely about our finances and economic pressures, not everyone wants to share freely about flogging their heirlooms, and the fact that people come out and do so makes the testimony even more meaningful.

A quick bit of Googling shows that there are plenty of places even in the same town that offer a similar gold-buying service, but none of them offer this reassuring back up, and they haven’t ventured into the social space to make it easy for their happy customers to become their brand advocates. “In an industry predominantly run by older gentlemen who are quite happy sat in their plain shops with a cash4gold sign outside, we are using a young, fresh, and candid approach-social media, home visits, and gold buying parties..”

Is your business a success due to strategic use of social media? We’d love to hear from you in that case! info@casslar.com with your story, and we’ll publish more of them in the Autumn.

Published in Costa Blanca News , 17th August 2012

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