Educate and engage your customer through social media: The Zappos Strategy

We are more than just shoes! Zappos is a service company that just happens to sell ________. These are two statements that sit at the core of everything Zappos is, and guide Zappos as a company that continues to innovate. As the Social Community Manager of Zappos, I want that answer to be clothing, fashion, snowboards, footwear, cookware, bedding, and so much more. But Zappos is typically associated with 2 things: Footwear and great customer service.

Many competitors believe we dug ourselves into a trench by mastering the online footwear business and logistics of competing with physical retail. Now that we’re in our 13th year, it’s time to tell a new story that focuses on Zappos maturing and making headway into the world of fashion, home goods, and variety of other categories you wouldn’t expect from an online retailer originating in shoe sales. Through social media we’re helping to tell the story that Zappos is more than just shoes, it’s all kinds of cool products.

How do we achieve this vision? Our current strategy focuses on great content and direct-response engagement. It seems simple, but we try to hit the sweet spot when it comes to social media. Every customer is important, and providing them with an answer, response, even just a simple hello conveys that Zappos level of service message to them. We don’t believe in ROI, we believe in ROE (Rate of Exclamations). If we get one exclamation at the end of a comment that’s great, but seeing a customer end a sentence with four or five exclamation points is about the clearest way I know our vision is being achieved.

The other method we utilize to educate our customers is targeting. Identifying what they love and utilizing that information to create relevant content may only hit a smaller amount of fans, but they’re the right fans. As a company that sells more than shoes, showing up in your newsfeed with something that’s interesting, beautiful, engaging and not trying to hammer out that we’d like a sale is the best kind of social media. We’re the store that’s more than just a business; we want to be your friends.

I look at the social landscape and see many businesses with more fans, more likes, more shares than Zappos, but I wonder if they’re getting the engagement and sales that we see from our social efforts.

We know that each platform has a different kind of community attached to it, and that one strategy won’t fit every single endeavor. As we mature as a company, these compelling stories invite our customers to be part of our future vision, which is more than anything we do. There will be hiccups along the way, even controversies, as not every piece of content will cater to the existing base/our core customer, but if we’re honest with them, explain our position, and ask that they trust us, I find more often than not they’ll give us the benefit of doubt when it comes to bold new directions.

The walls are breaking down between customers and companies, and that one-to-one level of access is becoming the rule and not the exception. Making sure every single person knows their opinion is important, that they’re valued, and that we’re going to do everything we can to make sure they reply back with lots of positive exclamations is the core to Zappos’ social philosophy, and we can’t wait to take customers along for the ride.

Aziz Bawany is the Social Community Manager for Zappos.com, the largest online shoe retailer, recently acquired by Amazon.com for $1.2 B. Follow him on Twitter at @azizbawany.

  • http://twitter.com/ResourceNation Resource Nation

    Zappos is definitely the picture of a business who is taking full advantage of what social has to offer. This is another case study on what they’re doing right and how we can do that too: http://www.business.com/blog/getting-more-leads-with-social/

  • http://www.thomaswooldridge.com/ Thomas Wooldridge

    now this a company that has done it right. fortune 100 companies need to pay attention