Zappos & Southwest Get Direct Engagement

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by: David Armano

A couple of weeks ago I was on a panel for the Ad Age Digital Marketing conference and slightly frustrated with the tone of the discussions, I said this:

Social Networks are all about facilitating human connections, and instead of talking about how we can do this—I hear marketers asking "how do we monetize" and "how do we advertise" on them.

To illustrate my point, I recalled a recent interaction I had with Southwest airlines on Twitter. They had found a comment I made about how much I enjoyed using one of their kiosks and responded to it. The last time I flew Southwest, I shot out a "tweet" right before takeoff saying "thanks for being on time". Of course, by the time I landed, they had responded.

Now along comes Zappos. Specifically their CEO. A couple of weeks ago I am notified that  Zappos is following me on Twitter. I watch the brand in their new environment. Observe how they behave. Notice that they begin conversations with other people on Twitter and yesterday it all came together as Zappos spontaneously gave away 10 pairs of shoes randomly to Twitter followers. (Above is a direct message from the CEO explaining to me how he got the idea to do the give-away.)


The fact that Zappos and Southwest are finding success in a social network like Twittter is not surprising. These are companies that get both business and the customer experience. At the Ad Age conference, the Zappos speaker talked about how the two organizations will get together to share their techniques about serving customers. Zappos prides themselves on limiting the amount of advertising they do—instead focusing on their customer experience which they know will generate natural word of mouth.

Which brings us back to how they are using Twitter. If there is one thing you need to remember about this space—keep in mind that it’s never about the tools. It’s about how people use them. It’s about the interactions. Zappos had figured out how to add value, create buzz, and initiate a dialogue directly with some of their customers online. Heck, they’ve even started their first online promotion. No microsite needed.

Marketers. Are you listening?  Because your clients are.

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