By E. Brown

I am still not sold on the value of Twitter (See Twitter for the ADD Generation). Yet, Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, sees great worth in using the socila medium for spreading the word and getting feedback about his company.

Here is a brief piece from an interview with Inc. Magazine:

You have 5,681 “followers” signed up to read your Twitter updates — that’s not just employees. Who are they?

We have eight million customers. It’s been great for getting feedback. For example, we have a new website that’s still in beta. As we make improvements, I’ll send out a Twitter message asking people what they think.

And you additionally can track anyone who mentions Zappos on Twitter. Here’s an actual example: “Just bought boots on Zappos. Grt cust svc–sent an email last night asking about hiking boots for flat wide feet and had links this AM.” Are Twits a good focus group?

It’s been really useful, finding out what actual word-of-mouth conversations are out there.

Of course, all the Twitter updates from Zappos employees are public, too. Anyone can read about your employees finding good bars to meet at and drink at. You posted a message about your nipples being chafed from surfboard wax. Couldn’t that kind of candor scare customers or business partners or investors?

There may be some times when an individual Twitter message out of context can give a bad impression. But generally people on Twitter aren’t just looking at one single Tweet. They see what we do over time. For customers, I think it’s a way to get an inside glimpse of what our people are like and what our culture is like. Our belief is that your culture and your brand are, ultimately, the same thing. Your brand might lag your culture, but eventually it’s going to catch up. I think where companies are finding challenges now is they want to project this great brand, but if inside the company it’s not a great culture, then they’re going to be in trouble in the long term. For us, I just think it’s important to be real and authentic.

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