Delivering happiness does not equal delivering content

It’s no secret that I love Zappos. It combines two of my favorite things — shoes and free shipping. However, my love for Zappos transcends my obsession with purchasing new Steve Maddens. What truly impresses me is their Twitter account.

If you head over to their Twitter feed right now, you’ll call me crazy. And admittedly so — their last tweet is from August 14. Even with my limited math skills, I know that was almost three months ago. However, their secret isn’t in their self-produced content posts; it’s in their customer engagement.

Image courtesy of Google Images.

Instead of using Twitter as a way to push content or promote their services, they use it as a way to answer customer inquiries in real time. Employees constantly monitor the feed; as one employee signs off, another one signs on and welcomes customers to chat with him or her. As of March 2011, over 435 employees (including CEO Tony Heish) used Twitter to answer customer concerns, all while maintaining a solitary brand and voice.

Brian Solis refers to this as “unmarketing.” In today’s social world, who wants businesses and organizations to push content into their feeds that has no value to them? Will you really buy a blender just because Williams & Sonoma posts it on their Facebook page? Probably not. Zappos recognizes this. Instead of promoting their latest fall fashions, they’re just there to talk to. They’re people, who listen and talk in real time. Call it conversation marketing, call it engagement, call it whatever you’d like. Zappos can call it profit — they’re now the largest online shoe retailer making over $1 billion each year.

To be fair, Zappos has been working on this strategy for awhile — they were one of the first major brands to use Twitter for customer service. However, while other companies scratch their heads to come up with generic questions that will receive audience feedback or find a video and pray that it’ll go viral, Zappos is doing things a bit differently. They’re just talking, and in turn, people are talking about them. Isn’t that what social media’s all about anyways?

What do you think of Zappos strategy? What other brands embrace this concept of “unmarketing”?

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About Abby Ecker

PR pro and healthy living blogger in the First State
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