The Cycle

Social media for dummies

On Tuesday, PRWeek’s editor-in-chief Keith O’Brien moderated a panel, “The Customer is the Company: How Social Media is Changing Business”. Among the seven panelists were Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder and customer service rep; Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos; and Jeff Howe, contributing editor at Wired and “crowdsourcing” expert.

The panel touched upon your typical social media issues - why/how/when to use, when to separate corporate and personal blogs and Twitter accounts, ROI, etc. - but the techy talk seemed to fall flat next to Hsieh’s passion for customer service and a discussion about Zappos’ internal comms and hiring strategy (and Keith’s jokes about robots, of course). At the end of the first week of the four-week long new employee orientation, which includes customer service training, Zappos offers employees $2,000 to quit to weed out those who aren’t completely dedicated to the concept of service and the brand– seriously!

While Hsieh focused less on social media than on how Zappos’ corporate culture - customer service and a positive staff energy - contributes to its success, it’s well known that the company served as a social media pioneer, using Twitter for customer interaction. So Zappos serves as a model that success in the digital age can also be rooted in Stone Age values.

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