Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Zappos - Powered by Social Media?

You may have noticed an article in today’s Ad Age by Pete Blackshaw about the corporate culture at rapidly-growing shoes site Zappos. Compete shows their traffic up more than 31%

against last year, so they must be doing something right. (I think the comparison is against all of Nordstrom, not just Nordstrom shoes.) According to Blackshaw, each year the firm publishes a “culture book” filled with employee testimonials about what a wonderful place Zappos is to work. Sounded interesting, so I took a look. What I found is a not-very-pretty, somewhat-edgy site that says it is "Powered by Service (TM)." There's a lot going on and much of it is social media based.

For example, when you click on the Naked People box (yes, I let myself be suckered) you get a product page.More to the point, they seem to have customer reviews on every page, beginning further down on the home page. The number of reviews seems infinite, but a quick scroll through some of them showed unanimous favorability on both products and service. Free shipping seems to be a real winner, plus they seem to have rapid fulfillment.

Zappos is also a major user of Twitter, led by its CEO Tony Hsieh. According to Twitterholic he is 42nd on their list with 10,917 followers. Barak Obama (his website, really) is first with 71,304. I don’t know that the senator twitters himself, but it does go to show that you can’t escape politics at the moment.This is a shot of the customer twitter feed; this morning employees were mostly twittering about Sarah Palin (politics again!) and I decided to skip that. But the point is that the employee section doesn’t seem scripted. According to Hsieh:

@zappos (Tony): We’re not really looking at Twitter as a way of driving additional traffic — it’s really just a great way for employees and customers to see that we are real people, and it makes the relationship a lot more personal, which is what we ultimately want people to feel about the Zappos brand.

@zappos (Tony): Our #1 priority as a company is our company culture. We believe that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff (like great customer service) will fall into place on its own.

A site with a lot of shoes and a lot of social marketing moxie! I also don’t see anything to counter the “great place to work” argument. Put both together and it seems to make a powerful marketing machine!

No comments: