Seth Godin has written about not letting the tail wag the dog. In lots and lots of words he says that all this social media is useless without a good product. Seth is absolutely correct.
On a social media level I think Zappos fails. I hate that they say their CEO reads everything, yet any idiot knows he’s not reading it all. Here’s how every email starts:
Hello, Thank you for emailing Tony. Although Tony receives over 2,000 emails a day and doesn’t have time to respond to all of them himself, rest assured that he reads EVERY email he receives. We are currently working on the implementation of a chip in Tony’s brain that automatically responds to emails with the response he would give but it’s going to take some time. But have no fear, Tony has developed a small team to address the issues for him.
I hate that they hired the meanest PR firm to ever invade the blogosphere. I hate that they try and sell Tony’s dumb book on every email they send you. Here’s how every email ends:
PS. In September of last year, Tony locked himself in a cabin at Lake Tahoe. He was working on a book titled “Delivering Happiness” that’s now due to be published on June 7! You can pre-order it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/deliveringhappinessTake a look inside Zappos!
Follow Tony on Twitter!
So yeah, their social media sucks, but they carry good shoes. I like that I can order Alexander four pair of shoes in three sizes each, and then return all but two pair with no shipping fees. I really do like that. I like that I can shop by size, by brand or by color and not leave my house. I like not being at the shoe store with an eight year old boy. Soon he will be nine, and in a blink he will be ten, and I’m pretty sure shopping will change.
I absolutely detest Zappos social media. I get really angry when I think that just a year ago they invited to me to follow Tony around Las Vegas HQ for a few days, and then they hired an angry woman that would use her entire PR Firm (do not underestimate the power of a PR firm) to bully a mom blogger while she asserts that, “PR agencies are hired by clients to do many things, but most importantly, they are hired to secure positive, free coverage across all media — TV, print, radio, internet, social and blogosphere.” Which (according to well respected PR pros) is not exactly accurate.
The bottom line? I love Zappos. I love them so much that when they launched their couture selection they would call me at home to make sure all my needs were met. I had direct lines for sales people there. I’m fairly certain that I’ve spent five figures with Zappos (shut UP and don’t tell Mr. G.).
I’ll keep spending money at Zappos, because they have have great products and great service. See, PR really doesn’t matter much, and apparently blogging matters even less.