Communication 2.0 - Zappos: a Social Media Success Story. Interview with Tony Hsieh

By | July 9, 2008

Zappos smart marketing at SXSW

I am very happy to announce that Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos agreed to an interview with me. Zappos is known as the best online shoe store in the business, but they are now offering much more.

A quick blog search will tell you how happy Zappos’ customers and staff are. They are truly a perfect example of a retail company that is using Social Media the right way.

Some innovative things the company does include:

  • offering new recruits a quitting bonus of $1,000. The idea here of course is that if you aren’t serious about the job, then you’ll take the money and run. The cost of training new staff far exceeds $1,000, so it’s a win win.
  • publish a “culture guide” book. The book looks similar to a school year book, filled with photos from company events, conferences and the daily grind. It features a couple of paragraphs from every staff member with their idea of what the Zappos culture is. It’s a brilliant idea for new staff members.
  • at South By SouthWest, I snapped the photo above of the free Zappos branded water ponchos. Talk about a brilliant way to promote your company. Anyone waiting in line to get into a local restauraunt during lunch will certainly remember wearing one – I do!

D: Who are you and what do you do?

T: My name is Tony Hsieh and I am the CEO of Zappos.

D: What social media (ie. blogging, podcasting, micro-blogging, social bookmarking, etc.) are you using to engage your clients and promote Zappos? Of these online marketing tools, which do you find most effective?

T: Our blogs are at: http://blogs.zappos.com. We are also very active on twitter: http://twitter.zappos.com. We also have a presence on myspace and facebook, but aren’t as active on those. The primary purpose of the blogs and twitter is so that outsiders can get a glimpse into our company culture. We don’t really think of them as marketing channels so much as ways to develop a more personal connection with people, whether they are other employees or our customers.

D: How are you measuring your success from social media?

T: Since we’re not looking at them as marketing channels, we aren’t measuring marketing ROI.

D: Are you cautious about allowing your customers to post about your company? How do you handle criticism online?

T: One of our core values is to be open and honest, so we encourage all customer feedback as long as it’s honest and constructive. There is always room for improvement, so whatever feedback we can get is great!

Our core values are here:  http://www.zappos.com/core-values.zhtml

D: Although Zappos is an online company, what is one piece of advice for a *traditional* marketing company trying to embrace Web 2.0?

T: Make sure that whatever you do, you do it in an authentic way and you are truly passionate about it. For example, if you’re not passionate about Twitter for Twitter’s sake, then you’re probably not going to be very successful at using Twitter.

We aren’t forcing all of our employees to use Twitter, but we do offer classes for those that are interested in learning how to use it.  We now have over 400 employees using Twitter:
http://twitter.zappos.com/employees

D: Thanks for taking the time Tony. Best of luck with Zappos.

This will be the third and final installment of my Communication 2.0 series (for now). If you are with a company, can recommend a company, or simply want to speak with me, please shoot me an email at davemadethat AT gmail.com. Thanks.

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