Zappos has been recognized for being one of the most forward-thinking companies when it comes to social media and marketing. But now that the financial crisis has hit the company, Zappos is really proving how much they believe in social media and how much it is part of their culture.
We all hear the arguments for message control and fear of exposure when using social media. But yesterday, Zappos laid off 8% of their workforce and instead of keeping it quiet the CEO* twittered about it (see image above) and published the letter to employees on the company’s blog. Normally layoffs are an internal affair, but not at Zappos. In his letter to employees Tony encourages his employees to twitter about the layoffs and the only guidelines are:
“I’ve been asked by some employees whether it’s okay to twitter about
what’s going on. Our Twitter policy remains the same as it’s always been:
just be real, and use your best judgement.” (Zappos Blog)
You would think that this move would encourage negative comments and reactions from employees, instead the general reaction has been one of support and sadness. Zappos customers have overwhelmed Tony’s inbox with loyalty and kind words. When have you seen customers send the CEO of a company (especially in these days when CEOs are not the most beloved figure) supportive messages when they are cutting people’s job???
This is what true transparency is and for Zappo’s is not a made-up, fake thing they do for PR, it’s about their organization’s culture. Here’s what Tony said on an interview on The Inquitr on August 28, 2008:
@zappos (Tony): We’re not really looking at Twitter as a way of driving additional traffic — it’s really just a great way for employees and customers to see that we are real people, and it makes the relationship a lot more personal, which is what we ultimately want people to feel about the Zappos brand.
@zappos (Tony): Our #1 priority as a company is our company culture. We believe that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff (like great customer service) will fall into place on its own.
So for showing true character in upholding social media principles in tough times, I am buying some shoes this weekend.
**Zappo’s CEO, Tony Hsieh is an avid twitter; he is the 42nd most followed person on Twitter. Tony has made twitter a central piece of his management. They also have a twiiter channel: http://twitter.zappos.com/