Zappos + Twitter = Innovative Success!

Man. If there’s one company that really gets the Internet, it’s Zappos. They make a huge effort to connect with their audience.

While I had heard of Zappos, and knew they were happily selling shoes online, I didn’t really give them much thought. I’m not really into shoes. That was until a friend of mine put out a tweet on Twitter saying, “Zappos gets it.” He had a link to Zappos’ CEO Twitter account.

Because I respect this guy’s opinion on such matters, I immediately went over and checked out what Tony Hsieh, CEO of was saying on Twitter. As of writing this article, here are a couple of his posts from the last few days:

  • Got into hotel late in Orlando so ordered room service. First time I’ve ever seen any place automatically add 21% for gratuity.
  • Seriously bizarre moment: Gardener knocks on my door this morning and asks for shots of tequila. I hope my trees don’t grow sideways.
  • At doctor’s office. Just had 4 vials of blood drawn for my physical. I don’t remember a needle hurting this much, but it sure woke me up! 🙂

Now, for a guy who casually follows company Twitter accounts, this was shocking! I had never seen:

  1. A CEO so comfortably interacting with a new technology like this.
  2. A level of deep intimacy and behind the scenes information.

Here are some of the recent Twitter posts from a couple other companies that use Twitter:

  • @LauReality need any more information about the Aura…let me know if I can help. From Lesley
  • Make sure you come by and see us at the Saturn table before 5! #blogher
  • Big news today! 2010 Chevy Camaro starts @ $22,995. Pre-ordering starts today. – Adam

  • We’re working on our brand image – how are we doing in your opinion?
  • retweet: @RobertBluey “I got a great deal on a new LG washer and dryer @TheHomeDepot. 10% off, no Virginia sales tax, free delivery.”
  • @mrlevy Hi – did you purchase the grill from us? If so please send an email to information (at) home depot (dot) com.

There is nothing wrong with those kinds of accounts. In fact, they serve their customers in an interesting way. But that’s how most companies use Twitter — as a PR machine covered in a thin veil of down-home personalization.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single promotional post from Zappos. Yet it blows away GMblogs and TheHomeDepot.

It’s powerful because everyone knows why GMblogs and TheHomeDepot have Twitter accounts: To make more money. If there wasn’t some measurable ROI, I guarantee those two Twitter accounts would be no more. They care about their customers to make more money. “We’ll care about you if you buy our stuff.” That’s the corporate quid pro quo.

Tony Hsieh uses Twitter because he likes Twitter. You can tell he likes Twitter when you read his “Beginner’s Quick Start Guide and Tutorial to Using Twitter.” He writes, “…but I promise you if you can talk your friends into joining it and you all use it for 2 weeks, it will change your life. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.”

Isn’t it strange how foreign the concept of doing something in business because you enjoy it is? It doesn’t seem like anyone does anything in this world if they can’t get money out of it.

Well, Tony took Twitter to another level. Zappos created an entire sub-section of their site. This section shows all of Tony’s posts and posts of the employees at Zappos. Their employee Twitter page says:

454 Zappos employees are on Twitter!

Are you a Zappos employee that uses Twitter?
Send Tony an email with your Twitter user name to be seen here!

Zappos, as a company, believes in Twitter and wants to support the Zappos employees on Twitter.

You may be wondering, “Sage, this is entertaining and all. But haven’t you, once again, gone off on some goofy tangent that has nothing to do with links?”

Ah! I’m so glad you asked, dear reader. Using Yahoo Site Explorer, you can see that has 2,647 links pointing just to that home page dedicated to Twitter at Zappos.

Here are a few articles that wrote (and linked) about this Twitter campaign:

Tony Hsieh is clearly a fun, inquisitive guy who likes to play around with things. He took that curiosity, fun, and love and ultimately turned it into a pretty darn nice link building campaign.

I guarantee links weren’t his motive. He was motivated by a tool he really believed in.

What do you really enjoy doing? I bet if you took your hobbies and loves and talked about them on your business Web site, you would almost instantly have the beginnings of a darn nice link building campaign for yourself.

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