How a Court Reporter Twittered Her Way to a Zappos VIP Field Trip

I began my Twitter life about a year ago, tweeting about this and that, following some court reporter friends and some of my vendors, for instance, Angela Hill of Incitrio, whom I have hired to do all of my branding.  (I give props to Angela because she told me to start using Twitter.)  I also followed JustinRFrench, my social media guru.

One day a couple of months ago I was reading Entrepreneur Magazine, and there was a great article about Tony Hsieh and his company Zappos.  I had never heard of Tony Hsieh, but I had heard that Zappos had been sold to Amazon.com for $800 million.  In the article, the author wrote extensively about how Tony has really tapped into using social media to promote his product, his brand, and the Zappos corporate culture.    I learned that Zappos has full-time people that monitor Twitter.  (Many companies today have people who monitor social media sites to see if anyone is talking about their company, good or bad.)  The article also talked about Zappos inviting executives of companies from all industries to come in and study their corporate culture.  Zappos is a company built on transparency and a company that understands what generation X and Y are all about and have used that knowledge to create great success.  The article also mentioned Zappos’ headquarters is in Las Vegas.

For my 49th birthday, my husband decided to take me to Las Vegas.  The moment he said, “Let’s go to Las Vegas,” I thought, “That is where Zappos is!”  But how was I going to get invited to visit?  Where would I begin?  I am a person who owns a court reporting firm in San Diego, not an executive at a huge corporate Fortune 500 company.

Then I remembered that Zappos has people monitoring Twitter, so I started my Twitter campaign.  On Saturday morning two weeks before my birthday, I tweeted something like, “Zappos is a really great company.  I wish I could go to Zappos for my birthday.”  Then I started following Tony Hsieh and Zappos on Twitter.  I couldn’t direct message anyone because they were not following me.  About three times a day for three days I would send a tweet about my birthday and Zappos and how much I wanted to visit their facility.

On the fourth day, my heart almost stopped, I had a direct message from Zappos, their culture guru, Jonathan.  He wanted to know what time I was going to get to Las Vegas for my birthday.  I wrote back, “I will catch a 6:00 a.m. plane.  You tell me what time to be there.”  Then he DM-ed (direct message) me his email address.  By the fifth day it was all set up.  So what happened?

Two days before my trip to Las Vegas, Tony Hsieh DM-ed me asking me if there was anything in particular I wanted to say to him or see.  I wanted to say something really smart.  I ended up tweeting him how grateful I was for the opportunity to study his business.

My husband had made a reservation for us to stay at the Wynn Hotel.  At 9:45 a.m., Julie from Zappos came to the Wynn to pick me up.  She drove me out to Zappos’ headquarters chatting with me about her company, giving me permission to ask any question I wanted to ask about their business practices, financials, transparency policies.

Once at Zappos, I was given a VIP tour by Jonathan who had made the arrangements for me to piggy-back on another group that was studying their culture, a travel company from Denver.  I had two solid hours of education about Zappos, their people, their philosophy, how they make money – I could go on and on.  I met the CFO, COO, and every question I asked was answered.   I was given gifts – an inspiring journal, a book on their corporate culture, and a Polaroid photo of me sitting in their VIP chair.  More importantly, I was given the gift of my mind being opened to possibilities for my company that I never before would have imagined.

I tell this story to illustrate the power of Twitter.  It is all about paying attention, reaching out to people, and connecting.  My 49th birthday was definitely one of my favorite birthdays ever.  I have two other amazing Twitter stories I could tell in which I have met great people I doubt I would have ever met but for the power of Twitter.

I love Twitter and often wonder, “Who am I going to meet next?”  I can hardly wait to find out.

rosalie@kramm.com

follow me if you would like:  @rosaliekramm

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