Twitter Marketing: An Interview with Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh

This is a guest post by Brian Carter, Director of SEO, PPC, and Social Media at Fuel Interactive.

People have been wondering for thousands of years how to use Twitter for marketing.

Some corporations aren't even blogging well, but others have become web 2.0 powerhouses. Zappos is one of the leaders and is hitting it out of the park with Twitter.

Zappos has 442 employees on Twitter. Their website boasts the subdomain, which includes:

  • A "reputation feed" of all tweets about Zappos,
  • A feed of all their employees' tweets,
  • A list of Zappos Twitterers, and
  • A ranking of who at Zappos has the most followers.
Twitter CEO Tony Hsieh is the #1 Zappos Twitterer with 10,604 followers. He is ranked the 42nd most followed of all Twitter users.

Tony graciously allowed me to interview him via email while he globe-trotted. No, I don't mean basketball.

@briancarter: Tony, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! Very impressive... I can't believe you have 442 Zappos employees on Twitter! Are you incentivizing them to do that in some way other than their Zappos "Twitter Rank"? @zappos (Tony): Employees are not required to Twitter and are not given any guidelines except to use their best judgement. Some employees enjoy twittering, and others do not. We do offer Twitter classes at Zappos, but they are optional.@briancarter: Do you tell them to interact with Twitterers other than Zappos employees?

@zappos (Tony): When Zappos employees leave the office, most of them leave to go hang out with other Zappos employees. Twitter is a great way for employees to meet up with each other and get to know each other from a different perspective.

@briancarter: Come to think of it, if there are 442 Zappos employees on Twitter, how come all your Zappos employees don't have at least 442 followers?@zappos (Tony): It's just to each employee to choose who he and she wants to follow, somost people do not choose to follow every single Zappos employee.

@briancarter: What percentage of your traffic is it and what percentage of your sales can you tie it to, even as one touchpoint among others? Or do you feel Twitter is more of a PR and branding tool and the results are indirect?

@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.

Brian CarterBrian Carter is Director of SEO, PPC, and Social Media at Fuel Interactive, as well as a stand up comedian and humorist. Brian will be speaking on Social Media at PubCon 2008.

(photo credits: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)