Brands

Zappos, Walking the Road Less Traveled for a Win on Facebook

This post is part of the Killer Facebook Pages Series, which highlights the top brand pages on Facebook and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

With more 240,000 fans across five Facebook Pages, Zappos heads up an esteemed platform for self-promotion — but posting product links, blog content or pitching customers for sales is not Zappos’ MO.

The brand managers crafted an alternative strategy based on making fans their stars. The goal, a Zappos representative says, is to build lifelong customer relationships.

“Nobody likes a friend who only talks about themselves,” notes Graham Kahr, social commerce product manager for Zappos.

You’ll see Zappos posting about every holiday, including obscure ones like Random Acts of Kindness Day. And product links are rare. It works.

Other content includes “behind the scenes” tidbits, about a vendor rep who stopped by, or timely content, like mentioning what shoes Ben, the Bachelor, wore on the reality show.

Zappos’ Facebook Page could easily be defined by what is not done. One thing you won’t see on its page is contests, the tactic so many brands use to acquire Facebook fans.

“Contests and sweepstakes can be fun, but we really only turn to these kinds of tactics when we can guarantee a great user experience,” Kahr explained.

Zappos controls five Facebook Pages total. Zappos Rideshop and Zappos Couture are managed by the buyers for each category, while Zappos Men and Zappos Women are managed by the blogs team. Finally, the main Zappos page is managed by the direct marketing team.

When it comes to branded content, Zappos has 16 blogs that could be posted to in order to lead traffic away from Facebook and back to Zappos’ website — but still, this is not the focus.

With the difficulty brands face in measuring social media ROI, how does Zappos judge its success? Kahr described what he calls three buckets: behavioral, or how Zappos’ actions influence customer decisions; diagnostic, or how much fans are engaging; and listening, or understanding customers in order to spotlight new opportunities to “wow” them.

Kahr says, “We are striving to create lifelong relationships with our customers and whether that means talking about their interests or helping them with a return, we feel that interacting with customers is of the utmost importance.”

Learning From Zappos’ Facebook Strategy

Here are a few tips that could help brands emulate Zappos’ success on Facebook:

  • Allow all interested employees to participate in social media. Every Zappos employee is trained in customer service.
  • Use a fan photo as your Facebook Page’s profile picture, or spotlight engaged users in another visual way. Zappos features a “Fan of the Week” in its profile picture.
  • Use Facebook Apps sparingly. Zappos uses Jobvite, Expo, and Polls & Quizzes — each carefully selected because they truly better the user experience.
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