Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos - Talks About Twitter


In prep for writing my Age of Conversation book II page, I reached out to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, for his insights about social media. Not only does Tony blog but he actively tweets (on Twitter the 140 character micro blogging platform).

In fact, that's where I "met" Tony. I sent him a Twitter DM (direct message). With Tony following 4658 people I Zappo_biz_card_2 wondered if he would respond. He did indeed .. within minutes (!) providing me with his off Twitter email so we could continue the conversation without the 140 character limitation.

Sidebar: Not to digress but .. where else .. how else could a little ol' diva in Atlanta connect with the CEO of billion dollar corporation based in Las Vegas? I tell you girl friend, that alone boggles the mind. One more testimony to how social media and in this case, Twitter, can open the doors and windows a little wider to  develop relationships.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  What influence has social media had on how you conduct business? Does Zappos have a system or process in place to respond to the concerns/complements from consumer generated mentions about the company? And to respond back to the blogger, tweeter, etc?

Tony Hsieh: We haven't really changed any of our internal processes yet. Right now the stuff I am doing on Twitter is just me... if someone Twitters me then I personally respond.

We now have close to 300 employees on Twitter, but

our main motivation for getting our employees to join Twitter was to help improve our company culture.

Company culture is our #1 priority.  We believe that if we get the company culture right, most of the other stuff (including great customer service) will happen on its own.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What advice would you give to a CEO on how to incorporate social media and the feedback from social media into an organization?

Tony Hsieh: 

I think if the CEO starts using Twitter on his/her own and is actually passionate about it, then that passion will eventually rub off on the rest of the organization.

You can't fake or mandate passion, you actually have to be passionate. On Twitter, people can tell whether you are actually passionate about connecting with other Twitterers, whether they are your customers or employees.

About Zappos - Founded in 1999, Zappos is an online commerce company that got its start selling shoes. Since then their product line has morphed to include: handbags, clothing, electronics and more. According to Marketing Sherpa, Zappos anticipates to top $1 Billion in sales in 2008. With a focus on superior customer service Zappos is game to try innovative strategies that bring them closer to their customers. Zappos Blogs Zappo Tweets. Sounds like a match made in Social Media Heaven!


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Now how cool is that?! And how did I find this interview you did with Tony H., and thus got to know a little more about a successful person I previously knew very little about? Why Twitter of course!

Posted by: Grayson on May 12, 2008 5:56:13 PM

@Grayson - yes .. ultra cool! And what else is cool is that this works for peeps in the same 'geo neighborhood' like you and me!

Posted by: Toby on May 12, 2008 6:52:43 PM

Toby, what a cool way to have connected with Tony and Zappos.

He's highlighted the difference, in your interview, between using social media as an extension of already-existing excellent customer service orientation and using it as a tool to imply that orientation. Former - great. Latter - not genuine.

Posted by: Tammy Lenski on May 13, 2008 5:48:09 AM

@Tammy - Not sure I understand what you mean by "tool to imply that orientation" as "lame." I think Tony is using Twitter as an internal relationship/team building tool. Would that not be an innovative application of Twitter?

By the way, I LOVE the design
of Conflict Zen .. perfect look and feel for your brand.

Posted by: Toby on May 13, 2008 9:25:31 AM

How did you get started twittering? It's pretty interesting how easy it is to connect to people on it. The character limit really forces thoughts to be useful.

Posted by: Carrie on May 13, 2008 10:11:44 AM

Toby - You're right, that needs clarification! (Though I didn't think or use the word "lame.")

What I was trying to convey, albeit incoherently, is that Tony's using Twitter the way a truly customer-oriented company does. I'm a big fan of his and Zappos, both on and off of Twitter.

I was contrasting his use to the use by a few other companies who seems to be doing it because they "should" and aren't really coming across as genuine...just using a tool to talk to, instead of with, customers.

Is that clearer? :)

Posted by: Tammy Lenski on May 13, 2008 10:15:47 AM

@Carrie - Great question! I pretty much followed the same path as with any other social networking community. however, with Twitter adding people to "follow" came after joining and before "listening" since I wanted to see how the people I knew in the business community, versus the general Twitter world, were using Twitter. They became my role models.

After listening to the convo I dropped a tweet, crossing my fingers that I did it "right." Hard to type with crossed fingers ;-) I was warmly tweeted back and "followed." Then it was sort of like swimming .. once you jump in the water's great! Yes, the 140 character limitation can be a creative challenge but you're right it does help keep you focused and not verbose.

@Tammy - thanks so much for continuing the convo. Yes, what you said now makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Toby on May 13, 2008 10:50:31 AM

Wow--what an awesome stash of information! I will definitely send my female entrepreneur blog readers your direction--amazing stuff!

I set up my Twitter but was unsure of what to tweet about. I will open my mind about the possibilities. I dislike the blatant promo stuff that is so self serving, but I do love the idea of being creative, evocative, and fun. I will go tweet today! :-)

Together, we are stronger!

Vicki Flaugher, the original SmartWoman

Posted by: Vicki Flaugher on May 13, 2008 3:33:43 PM

Glad you shared this, Toby. I just discovered Tony's tweets this past weekend. He is encouraging customers to engage with him in so many creative ways, including contests that give away a free pair of shoes to customers following him on Twitter! Very cool.

I completely agree that if the CEO leads by example, others will start to get it. An online company like Zappos is the perfect place to use a tool like Twitter.

Rock on, Toby!

Posted by: Becky Carroll on May 15, 2008 1:23:08 PM

Kudos to Zappos for their excellent customer service orientation!

Who knew? A cool company, a cool CEO and a cool corporate culture.

Loving it!

community manager
CorePage | Know more. Sell faster.

Posted by: _j@COREpage on May 15, 2008 1:39:19 PM

I am not really sure about all this as different people can take it in different way but it surly is interesting!

Posted by: James on Sep 19, 2008 5:47:11 PM

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