Let there be shoes – How Zappos is changing the social media game with employee involvement

ekastner    October 5, 2015

Title of Post: Let there be shoes – How Zappos is changing the social media game with employee involvement


Organization: Zappos.com

Industry: Online retail

CEO: Tony Hsieh

Web references: Zappos, Social Media Examiner, simply-communicate, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram

When it comes to employee engagement, Zappos is doing it right! Consistently topping the leader boards with employee retention their practices are often looked to as prime examples of how to run a successful business by valuing not only their customers but their employees. From their employee of the month office parades to customize your desk policies, it’s no wonder they are able to attract and keep the best of the best. It’s not surprising to learn then that a key factor to Zappos’ success is their approach to social media through employee involvement.

Founded in 1999 Zappos quickly became the leading destination in online apparel and foot-wear sales. Led by CEO Tony Hsieh and based in Las Vegas, the company has been featured six times as a FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For, and is driven by ten core values that shape their culture, brand, and business strategies. Among the list are values like pursue growth and learning, build open and honest relationships with communication, and be humble. This mind set is particularly important when it comes to Zappos approach to social media.

To give you an idea of what it’s actually like to work at Zappos and the mentality behind the mastermind Tony Hsieh himself you should watch the video below.

Zappos employee sharing their day at work #ZapposCulture

Zappos employee sharing their day at work #ZapposCulture

Zappos believes that businesses are powered by people not numbers and this message is clearly evident throughout their social media platforms. Tony Hsieh encourages his employees to use social media to put a human face on the company and use it for casual communication rather than promotions or marketing pitches. Employees are encouraged to share what they are doing at work and resources that customers might find useful both on and off the Zappos site – even the most mundane activity is an experience worth sharing. Employees even have several company hashtags (#ZapposCulture and #Zapponians) that they use to ensure they are not only interacting with one another but identifying as a part of the company. Even Hsieh humanizes the company with his social media presence by sharing casual everyday happenings.

Tony Hsieh casual tweet about an awkward public restroom experience

Tony Hsieh casual tweets about an awkward public restroom experience

Employee retention is a huge part of a successful business – happy employees = happy customers = booming business. Employee engagement and involvement is vital. At the core employees want to feel valued, they want to feel included, they want to be a part of a team or family, and families communicate open and honestly, they share their quirks and hobbies, and most importantly they trust each other. What Zappos is doing is genius, really – by encouraging their employees to use social media they are hitting all the marks of what it takes to attract and keep valuable employees. Trusting your employees to represent your brand while championing their individuality and including them as a valuable part of your family by maintaining conversations is a huge risk, but it pays off for Zappos. Don’t like your job today? Having a bad day? That’s ok, Zappos also understands that they can’t please everyone and that sometimes the stresses of a job creep up on you – they’ll still publish your blog post about unhappiness at the work place.

Experts agree – Zappos social media presence is what keeps them at the top, just listen to what Liz Azyan had to say at the Social Media Examiner.

This transparency translates into big bucks. By showcasing the relationship Zappos has with their employees customers are more eager to continually show their support – Zappos accredits a whopping 75% of their sales to repeat customers. This tactic has been vital to Zappos’ success – this culture of engagement has enabled the company to grow hitting annual sales of over $1 billion, expanding into niche markets (like American-made and vegan shoes), and even closing a unique acquisition deal with Amazon in where Zappos would still be able to maintain their unique company culture without Amazon’s interference.

Lessons: Zappos’ social media strategy through employee involvement has allowed the company and its people to grow together. It’s easy when you have buy-in from your tech-savvy CEO, but other companies are looking to Zappos culture as an example of how to attract and keep valuable employees as a means of driving sales. Their dedication to customer service and their great company culture are clearly visible on social media and it has had a huge impact on not only their sales but their reputation and brand.

Submitted by: Erika Kastner, rare Charitable Research Reserve

To contact the author of this entry please email at: erika.kastner@raresites.org

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posed on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance