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How Does Social Media Help Deliver On Zappos's 10 Core Company Values

I am still sifting through the evidence on what makes an online retailer go from zero to 1.2 Billion sales in less than 10 years. I felt I needed to go beyond the tactics and to look the core values that have produced such a world class business and how that can be applied to any business or brand. Also we have a look at how social media has helped Zappos deliver and drive those values internally and externally. I have also included a couple of examples of my direct experiences with Zappos and how I personally witnessed the “WOW” factor.

These are the ten core values that they live by from which they have developed their culture, brand, and their business strategies.

1. Deliver WOW Through Service and Experience

What does that mean?

  • Differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative.
  • Must do something that’s “above and beyond” what’s expected.
  • You must have an “emotional impact” on the receiver.

Note: This WOW generates great positive “word of mouth” this is where the leverage of social media to spread this virally has made a big difference as their reputation spread more rapidly in the last few years. Also they don’t do “WOW” with anything that relates directly tomonetary compensation

Below is a bit of the “WOW”.. and I am not a customer… showing Zappos Service   responding to a Tweet of a post “How Zappos Plans To Use 50,000 Online Videos” and I didn’t even direct the message @ Zappos

2. Embrace and Drive Change

Change is constant in this digital age. So be prepared to

  • Deal with constant change.
  • Learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it enthusiastically and encourage and drive it.
  • Never accept or be too comfortable with the status quo because, historically, the companies that get into trouble are the ones that aren’t able to respond quickly enough and adapt to change.

Note: As long as embracing constant change is a part of a company’s culture, the competition will not be able to evolve as fast. To stay ahead of competition, you must continually change and keep them guessing. Social Media is maybe one of the biggest changes to happen in marketing in a long time so embracing it is essential to a modern company

3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

One of the things that makes Zappos different from a lot of other companies is that they value being fun and being a little weird.

  • Many things they do might be a little unconventional — or else it wouldn’t be a little weird.
  • They want the company to have a unique and memorable personality.
  • Our company culture is what makes us successful, and in our culture, we celebrate and embrace our diversity and each person’s individuality.
  • They want the weirdness in each employee to be expressed in each persons interactions with each other and in our work.

Note: One of the side effects of encouraging weirdness is that it encourages people to think outside the box and be more innovative. Employees are more engaged in the work that they do, and the company as a whole becomes more innovative. Zappos use of social media helps spread and encourage this culture. A static web with no feedback and no interaction wouldn’t allow this culture to spread.

4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded (but not reckless)

They do not want people to be afraid to take risks

  • Theybelieve if people aren’t making mistakes, then that means they’re not taking enough risks.
  • Everyone to develop his/her gut about business decisions.
  • To never become complacent and accept the status quo just because that’s the way things have always been done.
  • Having the freedom to be creative in their solutions, makes your own luck.

Note: Sometimes a sense of adventure and creativity causes you to be unconventional in their solutions, that’s what allows a company to rise above and stay ahead of the competition. Social media allows that to spread with minimal friction within and without the company through all types of media such as online video and Twitter.

5. Pursue Growth and Learning

It’s important to constantly challenge and stretch yourself and not be stuck in a job where you don’t feel like you are growing or learning.

  • The goal is to help employees unlock that potential within each employee.
  • A company only grows because it takes on new challenges, and it faces even more new challenges because they’re growing.
  • If it ever gets too easy, then start looking for a tidal wave of competition to wash you away.
  • It may seem sometimes like we don’t know what we’re doing. And it’s true but nobody else knows how to do what we’re doing either.

Note: So there are no experts in what Zappos is doing especially in the field of social media marketing. But they keep pushing the boundaries like 400 plus Twitter uses tweeting

6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

They value strong relationships in all areas: with managers, direct reports, customers (internal and external), vendors, business partners, team members, and co-workers.

  • Strong, positive relationships that are open and honest are a big part of what differentiates Zappos from most other companies.
  • Develop emotional connections, at the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most.
  • It’s important to always act with integrity in your relationships, to be compassionate, friendly and loyal
  • The hardest thing to do is to build trust, but If the trust exists, you can accomplish so much more.

Note: Social media is all about open communication. Communication is always one of the weakest spots in any organization, social media enables this “digitally” in ways that never have been possible before.

Below is a recent comment from a Zappos employee on a blog post I wrote recently 17 Revelations On How An Online Retailer Went From Zero to $1.2 Billion demonstrating again the “WOW ” factor by taking the time to monitor conversations and real time search about their “Brand” and then comment (obviously enabled through their online real time search monitoring tools).

7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

Zappos wants to create an environment that is friendly, warm, and exciting. They encourage diversity in ideas, opinions, and points of view.

  • The best leaders are those who lead by example
  • The best ideas and decisions are made from the bottom up, meaning by those who are on the front lines and closest to the issues and/or the customers.
  • The role of a manager is to remove obstacles and enable his/her direct reports to succeed.
  • The best leaders are servant-leaders. They serve those they lead.
  • Many of the company’s best ideas have been the direct result of informal interactions outside of the office. For example, the Zappos idea for their culture book came about from a casual discussion outside of the office.

Note: Zappos culture is very “Social”. They work together and they also play together. The bonds go far beyond the typical “co-worker” relationships found at most other companies. They actually set aside time as part of the companies policy during work hours to “socialize”.

8. Do More With Less

They believe in working hard and putting in the extra effort to get things done more efficiently.

  • Encourage operational excellence
  • There is always room for improvement in everything they do, to stay ahead of the competition.

Note: Social Media allows them to get their marketing message out more efficiently. The Positive “WOM” (Word of Mouth) delivers on this core value in spades.

9. Be Passionate and Determined

Zappos values passion, determination, perseverance, and the sense of urgency.

  • They are inspired because they believe in what we are doing and where we are going.
  • Passion and determination are contagious. This inspires others to have the same attitude.

Note: Social Media  enables that passion to be transmitted and transmuted online and offline in a leveraged way and through different media that did not exist 5 years ago and you can see that impact day in and day out online via blogs, Twitter and blog comments.

10. Be Humble

They believe that no matter what happens they should always be respectful of everyone. In the long run, they believe the companies character will speak for itself.

Have you experienced for yourself the “WOW” factor of Zappos?

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • More freaking Zappos, the shoe company that saved the earth. Arrrrrgh.

    Surely this must be a sponsored post by now? ; )

  • Sponsored or not, the principles are right on target by me.

  • Jon

    Jeff, Thanks for another great post! I like the way you related the core values to social uses, it is nice to see/hear other peoples views on the how/why of what we do (and to see that they relate very well to areas beyond our specific focus of service).

    Working here is truly a joy, and not just because of the fun side of things. I can honestly say that I’ve become a kinder, more patient person in the two years I’ve been working here (well, it’ll be two years in January…) The core values become a part of you, in everything you do.

    Have a happy holiday!

  • I’d say that number six…

    6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

    …scares the crap out of most businesses.

  • Once again, Jeff..you’re doing a great job! As a sales trainer & consultant I am very much concerned about how to make company values operational to a point that the client can actually experience them.

    Keep on blogging … please.

    Best regards,


  • Really great article!

  • I often hear about “social media strategies” alsmost as a stand-alone concept, so it’s refreshing to see this post showcasing the direct link between business strategy / core values and social media. Social media certainly provides new ways to demonstrate some core values of a business and to execute its strategy in ways that were simply not imaginable just a few short years back. I also find it interesting to see how closely what Zappos is doing matches the human needs described by Tony Robbins in a TED video I’ve recently watched.

    One thing that could make this post even more instructive for me would be a little more in the way of what Zappos actually does with social media (from a technical standpoint) beyond scanning for mentions of their brand and using Twitter and blog comments to respond.

  • tlmaurer

    The sad truth is that while people may get tired of hearing about the ‘wonderfulness’ of Zappos in terms of their strategy and ability to differentiate themselves, they are members of a very small group. Too many other major organizations KNOW that they should be doing a better job of relating to customers at that WOW! level, but are doing absolutely nothing at all to move in that direction. Great posting, Jeff. Maybe a few more will get the idea. We hear about far more organziations failing miserably at customer service and customer experience than we do about the stars like Zappos. Have they differentiated themselves? You bet they have.

  • What I take away from this is that Zappos and a growing number of businesses everywhere have loudly proclaimed their wholesale abandonment of the notion that management/leadership must impose itself on its people (customer and employee alike) to achieve business objectives. This post highlights nicely how social media, as it does with individuals, compels us to take ourselves less seriously. I am thrilled to be reading more and more that the Silicon Valley values model is effectively wiping out the long-standing go-to’s in stifling production. We’ve all worked under management types with a hell-bent commitment to self-gratifying, antiquated us-and-them leadership paradigms. What Zappos is doing is rewriting the way leadership inspires and motivates direct reports. And that is a revolution long overdue. How exciting to have intellectual equity no longer arbitrarily assigned and defined by title. Just another example of what can happen if we listen more. Kudos, Jeff. Killer post.

  • In my training sessions my clients are seeking success stories in Social Media. I think this makes for an excellent case study for them.

    Lisa Ann Landry
    Vibrating Positive energy..what are you vibrating?

  • So basically what it comes down to is that Facebook, Google, Groupon, and Zappos rule the world. Utterly fascinating times of business we live in (fascinating times in general)! Thanks for yet another GREAT post Jeff!

  • Ton Rodenburg

    Hi Jeff, love your reflections about ‘living the brand’at Zappos. One of the leading examples in internal branding. Like to bring in that especially the last value: be humble, to me the deepest core value is of a shoeseller: getting on ytour knees before the customer and fitting a pair of shoes..The deep roots of the trade beautifully incorporated in the modern and creative culture of this great online company! From Holland i also follow Tony Hsieh’s delivering happiness tour. Great inspriation for everyone in marketing and HR!
    kindest regards!


  • hi jeff, I think i have become fan of your writing.

    Thanks for sharing such a great articles.. I always learn something for your writing.

  • Jeff – do you write your posts, or do you have copywriters to do them for you? 

    • I write all my posts except when I have guest authors who are mentioned below the title