Ah, an old-school audio podcast today! What a treat!!
This morning, Ralf Beuker of Vol. 2: design management.de and I recorded a discussion about social media, business uptake and cultural differences. Hope you enjoy it. Subscribe to The TrueTalkBlog on iTunes.
Most companies haven't a clue about how to use social media. (If yours is amongst them, be sure to read Groundswell, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff's new book, giving you a real head start over your competitors.)
One company that has MORE than a clue is Zappos. A year and a half ago, I was leading a strategy project for a retailer, which shall remain unnamed. The leaders of the business were complaining about how, "Zappos is kicking our ass" in the shoe and handbag business. Today, Zappos has become an online behemoth, a destination for serious shoe shoppers.
Well, price and selection are clearly important reasons, but customer service has to be paramount. Remember, we're mostly talking about women. Buying shoes. Online. How many pairs do you (or your honey) try on before finding just the right one? Now, how do you make that work if you're selling shoes online?
Well, first of all, free shipping...both ways! You buy 'em, you try 'em, you like 'em, you keep 'em; you don't like 'em, you send 'em back. Just like that. Oh, and you can send them back any time within a year!!
Also, you put together a great Customer Service team. Oh, and everybody's on that team. Every employee gets four weeks training in customer service, including a week in a warehouse.
Now, Zappos was founded in San Francisco and grew up there, but then, one day in January 2004, CEO Tony Hsieh (all of 32 at the time!) decided to move the company to Las Vegas. Why?
was one of those things we started talking about at the beginning of
lunch, and by the end of lunch, we'd decided. We were having a hard
time finding good customer service people in San Francisco. Las Vegas
has a lot of call centers and lots of people who want to do customer
service as a career. We announced it later that week and people were
moving by March.
Decided to move the company over lunch in January. Moving by March. Think youthful decisiveness and a kick-ass focus on action matter today?
Anyway, today, Zappos employees are not only having a hell of a lot of fun, they're also creating a killer online brand. And, what are they thinking about? Easy to figure that out. Follow Tony on Twitter (they have Twitter classes for their employees!). Read their blogs (they have several). Watch their videos.
Want to wake up some people on your executive team or in your boardroom? Invite them to spend an hour or so researching the Zappos story and then drop us a line. Let's see if TrueTalk can help you jumpstart your use of social media to help you connect with your customers in entirely new ways.
I've been using Twitter fairly heavily for the past couple of months. Before that, it was a curiosity. As I've become more comfortable with it, I've started following more strangers. My system for choosing whom to follow has been fairly simply: I'll look at links and @name replies (if you're not a Twitterer, the "@" sign designates a "tweet" [what Twitter users call each individual post] as a public direct reply to an individual) in the tweets of people I currently follow. That way, I've come upon an array of interesting folks I'd never have discovered otherwise. So far, I'm following slightly over 200 people.
Now, that might sound overwhelming. And, if I tried to follow every single thing that every one of those 200+ people posted, it would be. But I don't. Instead, I'm approaching Twitter like I approach the New York Times.
When I pick up each morning's edition of the Times, there are some sections I read religiously (yup, Sports is almost always first) and some I get to if I have time (Arts). If I have a little more time, I flip through the entire paper, simply looking for things that pop out at me. I think all of us have had that great experience of sitting down on a Saturday or Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and just meandering through our favorite newspaper. I always find unexpected, interesting things when I do that.
Same with Twitter. I'll open my Twitter page in the morning and look for posts from some of my favorite people. I scan the page, looking for those names. If I don't find one (rare) I'll hit the "Older" button until I do. Then, click on the person's name link and, presto, you've got all their tweets in chrono order. I'll do that for a few folks and, if I have time, go back to the Friends timeline to begin the "flipping" process.
Now, this undoubtedly means that I will miss great material. Just like I do in the Times on those days when I don't have "flipping leisure time." Some of those things I'll pick up by virtue of others' references; others are gone for posterity. So what? You can't pick up everything, after all, and you have to trust that you'll eventually find the valuable stuff if you work at it.
If you're a Twitterer, I 'd be very interested in hearing your approach for using this amazing resource...that is, if you can get our newfangled Disqus-driven comments to work!
As Doc has talked about for years, walled gardens are not conducive to mature relationships between people.
What does that mean?
It means that very few people choose to only related to a small slice of pre-defined people in real life. Most of us would rather let our interest in real people determine our desire to have a relationship, not a priori categories, like "occupation," "zip code," or "family income." Those three are analogous to social media walled gardens, pre-determined parameters that delimit those with whom it is possible to communicate in a chosen manner.
That approach is past its prime. Here are some more thoughts on the issue.