6 Ways Zappos Uses Twitter To Increase Sales

The recent sale of Zappos (an online shoe retailer) for $1.2 Billion to Amazon made the headlines. The company is well known for its extensive use of social media including Twitter, so I thought it was worth taking a closer look to see what are some of their strategies and tactics with their use of Social Media, especially Twitter .

Online shoe retailer Zappos does shoes and social media remarkably well. Scores of bloggers, lots of video blogging and it’s nearly 400 employees on Twitter help keep the company’s profile high and humanize the folks behind the shoe sales.  Now it shouldn’t be surprising that a CEO who sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $270 Million should grasp the importance of “driving web traffic” through well-placed “self-linking” in public conversations. A web page like twitter.zappos.com is worthy of study as the “secret sauce”:

Perhaps one of the most superb business uses of Twitter is exemplified by Zappos, the Amazonian style e-commerce company stocking over 3 million shoes, handbags, clothing item and accessories from over 1100 brands. The 24-year old CEO Tony Hsieh, not only twitters himself (with some 1,571,987 followers),

Note: He has also encouraged its Zappos’ employees to twitter, as can be seen on their twitter.zappos.com web page.


What’s more stereotypically trivial than shoe shopping? (Don’t tell my girlfriend that)  using Twitter, of course! ..she would call “that” trivial!

“Twitter is symbolic of rapid, short, synchronous and public conversations says readwriteweb.com.

Zappos has bitten off a big chunk of that paradigm.The most remarkable of all the social media efforts underway at Zappos is the company’s use of Twitter.

6 Ways Zappos uses Twitter (to devasting effect)

  • Zappos has a dedicated page for Twitter on its site that’s linked to from every other page on the site with the words What are Zappos employees doing right now? There you’ll find all of the Twittering Zappos employees’ most recent messages. Employees tweet about what they are doing at work and about interesting resources on and off the Zappos site.
  • Words throughout the page link back to search results pages in the Zappos catalog. (also called well-placed “self-linking” in public conversations). Could this really drive sales?
  • There’s also an employee leaderboard that shows who’s on Twitter and how many followers they have. Tony the CEO has five times as many followers as anyone else, perhaps because there’s a link on every page encouraging people to follow him and perhaps because CEOs are always the most interesting people at any company (sarcasm). Notably, Tony has taken the time to follow even more people than are following him – he’s got 2800+ followers and 3200+ friends.
  • Tony’s also penned a prominently placed introduction to using Twitter. Check out the intro paragraph: “Remember back when sending SMS text messages on your cell phone was a new thing, and it seemed kind of strange to use your cell phone to do that? And today, you probably wonder how you ever lived without text messaging.Well, Twitter is the same way. It’s going to seem a little weird at first, but I promise you if you can talk your friends into joining it and you all use it for 2 weeks, it will change your life. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.”
  • Transparent Brand Tracking, additionally, there’s a page that aggregates all the public mentions of Zappos from Twitter users at large. This is a great example of openness and transparency – something the company would probably be less inclined to do had they not already developed a wildly loyal customer base thanks to their famous customer service.Who wouldn’t like to have messages like this on their website, though, without exercising any control over what appears there?


  • Celebrating your super fans Zappos has set up special Twitter tracking pages for some of its favorite outside fans. Check out this page for the super charming WineLibrary.TV founder Gary Vaynerchuk, and this page for author and social media consultant Tara Hunt. That’s a great little way to say thanks to Twitter savvy brand super fans.

8 Key Outcomes This Twitter Activity Enables:

  • It drives inbound links,
  • Its employees create a good deal of internal web links
  • Raises Google Page Rank.
  • Enables a customer service forum,
  • Accelerates public relations,
  • Promotes branding
  • Provides a search engine attraction platform, creating magnets for search engine activity

So how are you using Twitter to increase sales?

Now it shouldn’t be surprising that a CEO who sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for $270 Mn should grasp the importance of driving web traffic through well-placed self-linking in public conversations. A web page like twitter.zappos.com is worthy of study as the “secret sauce”: It drives inbound links, its employees create a good deal of internal web links — all magnets for search engine activity, in particular, raising Google Page Rank.


  • Glen D. Gilmore

    Another great post, Jeff, thanks! As you note, transparency and openness are cornerstones of Zappos’ social media success, yet, for most companies, these very same principles present the biggest stumbling blocks for social media engagement.

    Zappos, like Dell and Ford, shows that Twitter can bring a strong ROI when coupled with transparency and openness.

    Thanks again for another succinct and timely lesson in social media marketing! Glen

  • http://twitter.com/rsferrari Rita Ferrari

    Great post Jeff. It would be interesting to see if Zappos could put a figure on their twitter ROI as Dell recently has.

    Also, while I realize your focus here is on how Zappos uses twitter, also of note is how they use blogs. I don’t know how many of the blog posts are tweeted but they certainly provide the link (albeit subtly) to share posts on Twitter and many other social media sites.

    And given that all social media tactics should work together (i.e. integrated), it would be really interesting to look at how Zappos is integrating all its social media efforts. Perhaps fodder for your next post? 😉

  • Charles brooks

    Dear Friend,
    It’s a fact: if you want your website to make you money, generate leads or get subscribers you have to advertise in order to drive traffic to it. Of course this is true for any business, but it is absolutely essential for online business.


  • http://readndownload.com azizul

    Amazing posts. I got this post link from your tweet in twitter

    • http://jeffbullas.com jeffbullas

      Thanks for your kind words. Glad you are enjoying the blog :) Cheers Jeff

  • http://@ljschafer Lori Schafer

    Great post on Zappos use of Twitter Jeff. I really enjoy reading your blog – always informative. Stay tuned for the early October release of the book I recently co-authored: Branded! How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media & Mobility (available on Amazon). It contains detailed case studies and interviews with top retailers about their use of Social Media & Mobility to enhance brand and communicate culture. Zappos has its own chapter as well as Starbucks, Macy’s, Best Buy and others.

  • http://twitter.com/kabaim Eric Kim

    Great post Jeff. Good points about driving SEO as outcomes – great way to have social media drive tangible results outside of the social media ecosystems.

    One minor correction – Tony is 37 years old (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Hsieh)

  • http://twitter.com/JeffFog Jeff Fogliano

    Interesting article. There are definitely lessons from Zappos that can be applied to all categories of websites – not just online retailers. I see a few applications that I’m considering trying to incorporate into our agency’s website.

  • http://www.inspiratif.com/ DS Rachmat

    I like it

  • Me

    boy is this poorly written. Have you studied English grammar?

  • http://www.colinmcdermott.co.uk/ Colin

    Interesting, thanks. Don’t listen to the grammar snobs 😉