Archive for October, 2010

The Power of Social Media: Why I Love Zappos

Zappos Tour

One afternoon I decided that I wanted a new pair of sneakers. So, I logged into my Zappos account and ordered some. Later on that day, to my surprise, they had upgraded my shipping to overnight for free! I was so excited that I had to tweet about it. The next thing I knew, I was responded to via @Zappos_Service thanking me for my loyalty to their brand and an exclusive offer to join Zappos VIP. Now I get free overnight shipping with every purchase. How cool is that?!

The bottom line is that most members of Gen Y love Zappos for a couple reasons. The first is that we love to shop online. In a survey conducted between 2004 and 2008, the Pew Research Center it was found that “Generation Y is the most likely to be engaged in all the various activities — communication, entertainment, e-commerce and entertainment-seeking”. In fact, 71% of active Gen Y Internet users buy products online.

The second reason Gen Y loves Zappos is because they can effectively communicate with their customers. In another TNGG article I agreed with one marketing guru that channels are much more important to Millennials than actual brands. In the case of Zappos, we love not only the channel, but the brand as well. Having a company online makes them easily accessible considering the fact that we spend so much time online. However, their ability to utilize these channels in different ways is what makes Gen Y love their brand.

Zappos is the poster child for effective communication with customers. Nothing is forced and they’re truly genuine. You get the sense that they’re always there for you. Not only does their CEO personally tweet on a regular basis, but their customer service account is active as well and always prepared for questions. They’re easily one of the top customer service accounts on Twitter.

At the end of the day, Zappos is a company fueled by customer service. Their television advertising shows adorable puppets acting out Zappos customer service calls, and you know the consumer will always end up happy. Doesn’t everyone (not just Gen Y) want friendly and reliable company representatives?

Millennials do want customer service, we just want it in different ways. Older generations prefer more much personal forms of service. Millennials want service as fast as possible and in the easiest and most accessible methods, like social networking. Zappos has met this demand with their online customer service efforts.

Zappos isn’t just preaching their ideas of customer service. They’re actually practicing them. CEO Tony Hseih wrote a book about “using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life”. Knowing that everyone in the company, even the CEO, genuinely believes in the same business principles is comforting.

Without a doubt, Zappos is a perfect example of a company that has leveraged social media in a positive way, for both the company and its customers. And it’s easy to see that Millennials have taken notice. Whether it’s through their website, Facebook, Twitter or advertising, Zappos truly is Power By Service.

Image credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr


Everyone’s Mom is on Facebook

story3[2]It seems like now more than ever you hear people say “My mom is one Facebook!!” Even me. While this brings about a whole new ballpark of humiliation for children and their parents, it is an important sign of the trends in social media today. And it is important to recognize exactly what this means for social media, the general public and marketing professionals today.

The Trend

According to Inside Facebook, over the course of 180 days from September 2008 to March 2009, there was a huge increase in the number of Facebook users in older generations. Overall, the 55-65 demographic increased the most with over 400%. Next was 45-54 year olds increasing just under 400%. Surprisingly enough, 18-25 year olds increased the least in that time period despite being the largest group of users at over 19.5 million. Clearly, the older demographics are increasing at a rapid rate in terms of social media use.

What does this mean for social media?

Social media users and providers need to take notice of this trend, without a doubt. It is important to keep users engaged for future success. The main goal of social networking sites, like Facebook, is to allow people to connect with friends, family and coworkers simply and effectively. Ultimately, we all just want to be able to connect. For older generations, however, it is much less about “stalking” and more about being able to talk with friends and family. More and more we see applications that promote use by older generations, like Family Tree.

What does this mean for the general public?

Noticing that older generations are on social networks like Facebook should no longer be about suffering humiliation due to a parent. It is important to recognize that generations, like Baby Boomers, still thrive for a connection. They aren’t ignoring the technology of today. Many have embraced it, and as a result, social media. It’s impossible to use technology without its social aspects. Along with new media innovations, come social innovations that everyone should notice.

What does this mean to marketing professionals?

Marketers cannot ignore these types of happenings. They need to be aware of it. These can mean a few things. First of all, companies and clients cannot make the excuse for not using social media anymore. It is clear that older audiences are listening through these channels and ready to receive the message. Companies should take the leap into new media, because although it can be scary, it is important to recognize an opportunity to connect with audiences.

For marketing professionals, they need to learn a new set of skills. With the introduction of social media, messages were crafted for younger audiences. Today, it is important to understand how to target older audiences through social channels. Without the understanding and the knowledge, an important opportunity will be missed.

Finding out that a parent is on Facebook shouldn’t be met with groans and signs of frustration anymore. It should be an important signal for the way things are changing. Not only do we as media consumers need to take notice, but as marketing professionals we need to understand the impact this could have.

Image credit: mp_eds via Flickr

Need Some Inspiration? Tips for Blogging

Blogging ReadinessFinding new ideas to blog about on a regular basis can be tough. It’s all about staying aware of new developments in your fields on interest. If you’re blogging for your business, think about what is new in your company that warrants being written about. Here are some tips on how to find blogging ideas, whether personal or for business:

  • Subscribe to RSS Feeds. It’s important to follow relevant blogs that you may be able to get ideas from. If you’re in the technology industry, think about subscribing to TechCrunch, Mashable, Gizmodo and Engadget’s RSS feeds. They can give you the latest news on anything technology related. If there is a certain subject that is being covered by multiple sources, it could be important to talk about and a possible topic.
  • Organize Your RSS Feeds. Google Reader is an amazing tool that every blogger should utilize. You can have all of your RSS feeds in one place. It’s an easy to use interface that is easily organized. You can have all of your public relations blogs in one place, your advertising blogs in another and your technology blogs in another. Also, Google Reader has a great Trends section in which you can see your reading habits and what interests you the most. You can even share blog posts with other Google Reader users.
  • Collaborate, because it’s easier if you have another person working with you. If you don’t have Google Wave yet, then get it. It’s a great tool to share ideas and collaborate with other people. Brainstorming or even writing out an entire blog post with another person is very easy with Google Wave. Right now, the technology is still in its early stages and definitely needs improvement. However, it’s the way of the future.

  • READ THE NEWS. Reading the news is the most important to understanding trends. You don’t need to pay a subscription for a newspaper every day, but at least watch the news or keep up with the news online. The world we live in is shaped by what happens inside and outside our country and local areas. You need to stay connected if you want others to connect with you.

  • Social Networking. Twitter and Facebook are a great way to see trends as they are happening in real time. Twitter has their Trending Topics section where you can see what people are talking about the most in the Twitterverse. On Facebook, read your comments and people’s statuses. A big event could have happened that a lot of people are concerned about.

  • Stay Connected. If you haven’t noticed, the main theme is staying connected. You need to be connected to people, social networks, the news and other blogs. If you can’t notice what is going on beyond your own business or blog, then you won’t be able to come up with any fresh or interesting posts for your audience to enjoy.

Image credit: cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr

Twitter is just so awesome

My design for Twitter's "over capacity" screenSome have considered 2009 as the year of Twitter, and in many respects, they’re right. Twitter seems to be just the right type of platform to get your message out quickly and effectively. However, there are some critics out there who think Twitter is just a passing phase and not worth wasting time on. But, it is still a useful way to give a message that could gain attention to a brand.

  • It’s more than just a broadcast: it is a way to more intimately connect with your followers. If a dedicated fan of your brand truly believes in your message, they can easily spread the word with a retweet or an @reply. If a customer needs a problem addressed, you can contact them directly and easily. It is a short and simple way to have a two-way conversation.
  • It’s a great way to find out what people think about your business. Utilizing Twitter search is a tool that all business should be savvy in today. You can easily track the amount of coverage your company is getting and exactly what people are saying about it.
  • It’s an easy and simple way to follow trends. Simply put, if it is a trend on Twitter, people are talking about it. Twitter is a way to gauge your audience and find out what is relevant to them at any given time and relevancy is key when it comes to targeting your audience.
  • It’s real time. There is no waiting for publication in a newspaper or magazine. You can get the information and content out as fast as possible and at exactly the right moment.  Need your audience to find out something important? Tweet around noon so that you audience will be more likely to see it.

It’s all part of today’s lingo. If you don’t know what hashtag, retweet, tweetup means, you need to catch up! Social media is becoming more and more important in today’s society and vital for a business’s success in the industry. By putting off using social media, you’re just delaying what will be necessary in the future for your business.

Image Credit: Mykl Roventine via Flickr