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Numismatics and social media platforms

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coinsandmedals

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I enjoy a good book just as much as anyone else, but my wife is nothing short of a bookworm. Her happy place is resting in her “egg-chair” with a good book and a warm cup of coffee, while our oversized cocker spaniel spreads out on her lap. Recently she started a “bookstagram” where she shares her thoughts about recent reads and takes book suggestions from followers. She seems to enjoy interacting with fellow bookworms, teachers, and at times authors. As any husband should, I provided support, encouragement, and my opinion when solicited, but otherwise, I just let her enjoy her newfound outlet to share her passion.

I didn’t give it much more thought until I stumbled upon a stack of business cards while doing some much-needed organization in my home office about a month or so ago. Within that stack was a card from a younger world coin dealer I met at the Memphis show a few years back. I remember our conversation so vividly because he mentioned that beyond the Memphis show, his entire business was conducted on Instagram. At the time, I was shocked because I didn’t think social media platforms would be instrumental given the general population that they are catered to, but geesh was I wrong. I took a glance, and I soon realized that there are some genuinely top-notch sellers actively buying and selling on several social media platforms.

I mentioned this to my wife, who, half-joking suggested I create an Instagram account for my coin collection. I am not active enough on this forum for most of you to have a feel for who I am as a person, but let me assure you, her suggestion was rather comical. Even before the pandemic, I never had an interest in social media platforms, primarily because I much prefer spending time with friends in person over what is often superficial virtual interactions. It was not until my junior of college that I even created a Facebook account, and I only did so to keep in touch with the friends I made overseas while studying abroad. I have the app on my phone, but I wouldn’t even begin to guess my password after many years of inactivity. As wives tend to do, she teased me, suggesting my “coinstagram” might muster a few dozen followers, and I tended to agree with her. After all, coin collecting seems like such an odd hobby to many people, and coin collectors are indeed a unique breed.

In good fun, I took her up on her challenge and created an Instagram page for my collection, and I am having a blast! Who would have thought that I, of all people, would enjoy social media? Most of my friends are shocked, and my wife thinks the whole endeavor is rather comical. I have been posting a coin from my collection with a brief, often historical write-up almost every day, and the community seems to be very supportive. To make things even better, I get to check out some truly amazing coins that others share from their collections. It’s almost like the “post your newest additions” thread but much more active. I see at least a dozen coins a day that I never even knew existed, and I find myself more tempted than ever to expand my collecting interests. In that regard, I suppose Instagram may be a bit of a bad influence.

In part, I decided to share my experience here because of Jeff Garrett’s article discussing the potential impact social media and internet groups could have on our hobby. It is interesting to see so many coin dealers moving to online platforms in the wake of the pandemic. I had always assumed this would take the form of dedicated websites, but I never pondered the potential role of social media platforms until recently. Amid the pandemic with most shows being canceled, I would hazard to guess that the role of these platforms is likely to expand. As discussed by Garrett, the business component is interesting, but I can’t help but wonder if this increased push into social media platforms will expand exposure to potential new collectors. Perhaps this may even bring in more young collectors who are the primary consumers of social media. Of course, the flip side of that issue is that it could turn into another platform for misinformation, such as the “get rich quick” videos all over YouTube. What are your thoughts? Do you think social media platforms will have an impact on the hobby? If so, do you think it will be mostly positive or negative?

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I'm still seeing a lot of dedicated websites and I've seen a trend towards dealers making their own sites to leave eBay. I buy a lot of my currency from a company that developed their their  own app that I have on my phone that can give me push notifications when they run a "10% off your whole order" sale. So I'd say it's a mixed bag.

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1 hour ago, Revenant said:

I'm still seeing a lot of dedicated websites and I've seen a trend towards dealers making their own sites to leave eBay. I buy a lot of my currency from a company that developed their their  own app that I have on my phone that can give me push notifications when they run a "10% off your whole order" sale. So I'd say it's a mixed bag.

Oh for sure, and my post was not meant to mitigate the migration to dedicated websites but more so to point out the extension to social media platforms. I assumed the former would occur; however, I never gave the latter much attention. That said, the app idea is entirely new to me and very cool! Is this a larger outfit? 

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33 minutes ago, coinsandmedals said:

That said, the app idea is entirely new to me and very cool! Is this a larger outfit? 

They definitely seem decently big. I'm not sure how big but big.

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your questions r not easy to answer....whether going to be positive or negative for the hobby?...its prob going to be determined on the character of the participants, id assume the people drawn to it will gradually segregate into two camps, collectors n dealers....i am aware that the social media platforms have generated great interest in the selling n buying aspects of the hobby/business...my son who collects has quit selling his duplicates on ebay n almost entirely sells on the social media platforms now to an eager audience...on the flip side he has been able to also find some coins for his collection thru the platforms that were not available on ebay etc....so it has benefited him both as a seller n as a collector....

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To me this is a troubling trend. To gain the newbe's you risk losing the collecting veterans. Older collectors have been asked to adapt to the changing market place, and for the most part they have. However, my coin club maintains a webpage and a Facebook account. I wonder, in an effort to keep their costs down, when my coin club will ditch the website for Facebook? I used to have a Facebook account until somebody hacked it and used it to extort money from me. Fortunately, it turned out to be a hoax I never paid off on, but still, Facebook is done for me. These new social media platforms have a big red target on their backs for every would be hacker to take their shot at. Identity theft and the like are real for anyone who uses electronic media. I spend money to protect myself from identity theft that I would rather spend on buying coins. Yet it is the world we live in, and the price for doing business. Sadly, it is the brick and mortar shops where you develop a trusting relationship that makes this hobby much more personable and in my estimation, enjoyable. This is the direction we need to steer our newbe's, rather than simply accommodating them

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@gherrmann44 You make an interesting point about veteran collectors. I assume this applies to a world in which most dedicated websites have transitioned to social media platforms? I find this hard to imagine, but stranger things have happened. I understand the need to keep operating costs low, but it seems to me that the bulk of established dealers using social media primarily do so for free advertisement. I mentioned that some younger dealers do their business entirely on these social media platforms in my original post. However, from talking with them, it seems like their end game is to eventually build and maintain their own website. Apparently social media platforms like Instagram have a few significant limitations that are best addressed by dedicated personal websites or outlets like eBay, where security is a bit more rigid. The fees at eBay are a limiting factor that may make the development of a dedicated website more appealing. At the very least, social media platforms are powerful advertisement tools that cost next to nothing to maintain.

I live in an area devoid of any noteworthy brick and mortar shops. The closest “coin shop” is over an hour away, and his inventory is severally lacking unless you are looking for bullion. I have several working relationships with dealers across the globe whom I have never met in person. It is not unusual for them to send me unsolicited items for review or give me a call when something interesting comes their way. Most have offered and often do bid on my behalf at smaller auctions without a large online presence. On a more personal note, we frequently chat about other non-numismatic topics, and at times our wives join the conversation. Several have invited us to their home should we ever find ourselves in their neck of the woods. My point is that you can develop trusting relationships with dealers without ever setting foot in their shop or even meeting them in person. That said, I would prefer to meet these people, but I lack the needed funds for all of that traveling. Oddly enough, our next European vacation has a designated stop for this specific reason, and my wife is entirely on board with the idea!  

In your view, is it the mass migration to the digital world generally speaking that runs the risk of isolating veteran collectors or the increased involvement of social media platforms? If the latter, do you see this more so as an issue of unfamiliarity or lack of trust? You mentioned your coin club, but it seems like clubs would be at higher risk to migrate to social media platforms because of thinner margins compared to dealers. Do you think we will gradually see a shift in trends towards less dedicated dealer websites and more dependence on social media platforms?

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@coinsandmedals I live in a town where there are several dealers within a short drive. In an imperfect world we are largely influenced by our local experiences. We adapt as we must to enjoy the hobby we love. Older people are less likely to embrace new technology because they don't understand it and therefore don't trust it. Now retired, I worked in technology my entire life. I have embraced the electronic marketplace. I have embraced the registry here at NGC and have won 5 major NGC awards for my registry sets and 7 for my journal posts. I have also bought and sold coins on E-Bay. E-bay has done more in my estimation to make the world a marketplace for collectors than any other forum. This has been good for the hobby and me in particular, because my collection literally exploded. Heritage Auctions has also done a lot to open things up to dealer and collector alike. Often I have bought coins from dealers, only to find they bought them through Heritage. I also enjoy the dealer from Old Pueblo Coin in Tucson, Arizona that does You Tube videos. I have been watching his videos every day. To date I've managed to adapt very well. 

Because I was burned, I have a huge mistrust of social media. In fact as I get older, I am cherish my privacy all the more. I don't need social media and I don't want it. I tried Instagram not long ago but had trouble trying to figure it out and quickly lost interest. Fortunately, I am largely able to access the technology I currently use and remain somewhat anonymous. Another reason for my feeling comfortable is the high level of character I see displayed by most coin collectors.

Over the last year in the era of COVID, I have worked very hard in my church to modernize how we do church. Working with a congregation that has mostly older congregants, I've had a very challenging time trying to get them used to using ZOOM to conduct our services. Others have very old computers or none at all. Thankfully, one of our older congregants doesn't mind connecting to ZOOM over their phone. All this to say that my coin club is comprised of a significant number of retirees. They are more likely to get in their cars and drive to regional coin shows. We even charter a bus to the Central States show in Schaumberg, Illinois!

We have a 100+ person membership in our club and currently have our club meetings via ZOOM. Sadly, only about half the people that attended our in-person meetings before COVID now attend our ZOOM meetings. I wish more people would avail themselves to ZOOM as it has opened the door to a lot of things we would have never done before. For instance, we watched an ANA video on grading coins over ZOOM at our last meeting via screen sharing. In fact, I may ask if I can do a presentation on photography at a future meeting.

It is the younger people that both like and use social media, and I in no way want to discourage them. I just don't want to be a part of it. I frequent the ANA's member blog where there are a number YN's that are all in. One of them is starting a weekly newsletter that they want me to critique. However, as I get more into helping them get established in the hobby, the risk of losing my privacy increases. Because they are enthusiastic about social media and all in, they tend not be as wise about privacy and identity theft issues. Hopefully, over time, I will be able to be a positive influence on them. In fact, truth be known, we all need each other to grow the hobby!

I totally get that you live in a rural area and that electronic media has opened up the world to you. Though more difficult, I also understand how to develop trust over electronic media. I have met both dealer and collector alike on the internet who I eventually met in person that I trust. My only caution over social media is that some people might get left behind. This is the main reason why I fear my club will eventually shut down the webpage in favor of Facebook. Since I am a member, I will most certainly vote against that. That said, because of my mistrust of Facebook, I am unable to access my club's Facebook page. However, for me, that is a price I am willing to pay to preserve my privacy. In fact there is a person in my church that puts tape over her computer camera because of a huge mistrust of Zuckerberg and the internet! In the end, I am not against change, but I am for people using technology at a level that they both trust and understand. I am however, concerned about sacrificing the older collectors on the alter of change because they either don't understand or want to change.

To put things in perspective, when I graduated high school there was no internet or for that matter, cell phones. (Funny how most of my life I worked for a cell phone company with technology that didn't exist when I graduated high school. No 5G, in fact no "G"). There were however, numismatic magazines. These magazines had dealer advertisements and mail-order coins for sale. Mail-order is how I developed my collection when I was in high school. Now hardly anyone uses mail order through magazines. Fifty years from now, coin collecting will continue to evolve and I won't mind! Gary 

Edited by gherrmann44
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Thank you for taking the time to write out this journal. It benefits all of us to see the thought processes of our fellow numismatists. This topic is an interesting one indeed. 

 

I just turned forty five. As a freshman in college, we were required to take a seminar on how to use the internet. I did not use the internet at all in HS for anything school or research related. I am saying these things to put my frame of reference into perspective for anyone reading this. If you had asked me ten years ago to discuss the ways in which the internet has impacted the world, I would be hard pressed to list anything positive. And I still feel much the same. But......over the last some years, as I went through changes in my life for the better, I have found ways to use the internet for a lot of good. One of them is by finding communities of like minded people. I could write a lot about this and maybe  will use this as a journal idea.

 

Anyway, I digress...

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