Branding Through Content Marketing

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Zappos: A Successful Company in Social Media

Zappos is an online retailer with one of the most active social media platforms we see today.  CEO Tony Hsieh is one of the most followed individuals on Twitter, having amassed nearly 2.7 million followers.  But for Hsieh and Zappos, their social media activity is merely a reflection of their company culture.

“For Twitter, we don’t really view it as a marketing channel so much as a way to connect on a more personal level, whether it’s with our employees or our existing customers,” Hsieh said in an interview with Stephen Spencer.  “Initially, we started getting the entire company more involved with Twitter because we saw it as a great way to help build our company culture. But then we discovered it was also a great way to connect with customers as well.”

The Zappos family has in excess of 440 tweeting employees.  Hsieh encourages them to not market products or build the brand, but to be themselves and have their social media accounts be personal and insightful.  The company does offer Twitter classes to their employees, but aside from that, there are no guidelines for what employees are required to tweet.  The only thing Hsieh asks, he says, is that employees not do anything, via Twitter, telephone or in-person that contradict their core values, which can be found here:

One of the most fascinating things about Zappos in their social media efforts is that they are not concerned with return on investment. It’s important to note that Zappos does not sell products via social networking, they simply engage and measure reaction through the various platforms. Hsieh says they are really looking to build life-long relationships with customers. The 37 year-old CEO says social media is also a positive in recruiting potential employees because their interaction on social media platforms is a true reflection of their company culture. The unique paradigm set alongside this corporate interaction via social media is that Zappos also highlights their fans.  The company will occasionally do a “Fan of the Week” bit.  The more you highlight your fans and followers, the more actively they will engage with you.

On Facebook:

Zappos has 269,293 likes

They post approximately one time per day, most often on the topic of products, contests or giveaways or fan photos or comments.

The company posted an overview of themselves and their mission and followed up with a brief description of their desired interaction on their Facebook page.

On Twitter:

The Zappos service account (@zappos_service) has 13,901 followers

It is the account with the most frequent interaction with followers, having tweeted five times already today.

Zappos has crafted one of the world’s leading social media strategies (even though CEO Tony Hsieh hates that term) by first leveraging their company culture and secondly, no matter by what platform, treating customers the best they can.

Zappos has a wide reach across many other channels of customer interaction such as email, blogs, Facebook, YouTube and the newly-launched, in which the company aims to produce two to three original videos per week giving customers a unique look at daily life at the Zappos headquarters.

Chipotle and Social Media

Chipotle is a unique company with a unique marketing perspective. They do not spend millions of dollars on advertising like other fast food changes. Instead their marketing strategy reflects their business model- local, responsible and “with integrity.”

They used their first nationally aired ad in eighteen years at the Grammy’s this past year. Although there was no social media tag in the video, it blew up on twitter using #Grammys. Some people claimed the ad brought tears to their eyes and other said it stole the spotlight from the actual Grammy’s.

In an interview with Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold said the chose the Grammy Awards  “because we wanted to expose more people to it and thought the Grammy audience would appreciate it…Judging by the reaction, it has certainly made an impression on people.”

You may think this means that Chipotle lets their videos and product speak for themselves. That would be patently false. Chipotle is one of the most conversational companies in the world on social media.

They claim that almost everything calls for a response and respond to 83% of comments in 1 hour and 44 minutes making them the fourth quickest responder of restaurants according to research from Expion

You can very easily talk to Chipotle on Twitter or Facebook where they can be seen apologizing for a bad experience or responding to positive feedback from customers. 

For Chipotle it is not about trending or making millions of friends it is about continuing the customer experience and promoting their mission of “food with integrity” long after the customer leaves the store. 

Kudos to you Chipotle for keeping your food and your social media fresh. 

Starbucks: Thinking Forward with Social Media

by: Catherine Farist & Abigail Colella

On Twitter: Starbucks engages with followers on their twitter, answering questions, retweeting what people are saying about the brand and creates an open communication channel to speak with the public with roughly 3 million Twitter followers.

Using Instagram: Starbucks will retweet photos taken of their various drinks their followers will post on Twitter & Instagram, such as their signature “Frappecino” drinks.

On Facebook: Starbucks uploads content to their FB page such as: Videos, blog posts, and photos. The company also invites people to events and post specials or deals they are promoting, such as their “Buy 4, get 1 Free” from August. Fans have a place for open discussions and to post comment. Currently, they have 31 million FB likes, 240,000 people “talking about” them, and roughly 6 million FB users were “checked in” at Starbucks.

Using Pinterest:


On Youtube: Over 4800 people subscribe to Starbucks YouTube Channel. They upload videos of commercials, as well as, informational videos explaining the origins of the different coffee blends and some of their charity work videos. They also upload videos showing their history. Currently, they have 13,000 subscribers, 7,000 views on newest video upload. (256 videos)

My Starbucks Idea: This isStarbucks’ own version of a social network where customers are asked to share their ideas on anything related to Starbucks. The site gives users the ability to see what others are suggesting, vote on ideas and check out the results.

Ideas in Action: This blog is written by various Starbucks employees and talks about what Starbucks is doing with the ideas given by users on the My Starbucks Idea site.

A look into the “Whole” Story- Hannah and Augusta

Whole Foods is a unique, organic grocery market that began as a small store in Austin, Texas and has now expanded to over 310 stores world wide, with 22 new stores opening in 2012.

Whole Food’s is a grocery store company that appears to have it all together when it comes to their social media.

The social media pertaining to Whole Foods is unique in that Whole Foods is a regional corporation but also the down the street market for many.  Therefore, Whole Foods has its headquarter pages as well as a page for its local grocery stores. For the purpose of our class project, Augusta and I will center our focus on the Whole Foods Market Mountain Brook, AL and the original Whole Foods Market.

Whole Foods Webpage

Whole Foods is involved with a variety of social media outlets including









Whole Foods Market Mountain Brook, AL


-Basic info on page: Phone number, Directions, Hours, Photos


1. One time today: About job openings in the store

2. About: Advertising events and promotional deals, Recipe ideas

3. Very visual: most of the posts include large photos and few words

*Low activity on the local Whole Foods Page: There will be about 1 post that comes on average every other day

Whole Foods Market


-Posts come every day and occur about 2-3 times per/day


1. Recipe ideas, pictures,

2. Great because the posts are time specifc: meaning around Labor Day many of the posts pertained to Labor Day and incorporated “grilling out” ideas

3. Fall= Football season- and the most recent post is a recipe for baked beans for your next tailgating party

*The facebook page succeeds in taking a large business with over a million followers and makes it feel personal.  They are updating it consistently and writing posts that pertain to the average person.  From back school lunch ideas to fun and unique recipes, Whole Foods Market makes it their goal to post fun and healthy recipes for the American families.


            We decided to look closely at both the Whole Foods headquarters’ Twitter account, (@Wholefoods) and the local Whole Foods Mountain Brook account, (@Wholefoodsbham.)


  • Has 2,954,439 followers
  • Is following over 500,000 people.
  • Has tweeted 36,930 times since
  • They tweet almost every hour. Subjects include: healthy living, recipe ideas, tailgate food, discounts and sales, and current campaigns.


  • Has 5,219 followers
  • Follows 2,102 people
  • Has tweeted 847 times
  • They tweet about once a day, with similar topics to the main twitter page, including: information on local farmers, current sales, local events, and discounted food items served at particular times during the day.

Both of these twitter accounts have effectively used their sites to communicate to their customers. Both accounts follow a large number of their followers and respond to followers who comment or directly tweet to either account.


-45 Boards

-1,023 Pins


Ranging from “Who want’s dinner,” “Sweet Tooth,” “The fabulousness of fall,” to “Great garden recipes”

Pinterest is all about the pictures and what better way to relay recipe ideas and fun foods from Whole Food’s Market than with photos.

Whole Foods pinterest has succeeded in covering the sweet, the savory, and the eco friendly ideas.  I could potentially see their Pinterest page replacing many cookbooks in the future, because now the customer is simply a click away from recipes and pictures to some of Whole Food’s favorite food ideas.


  • Following 780 people
  • 385 photos posted

The Whole Foods Instagram account is stocked with artistic photos of delectable foods that will make your mouth water. There are also photos posted of interesting and beautiful sites, such as; a picture of a boat with “Happy Labor Day!” along with witty sayings, flowers, and local shots of Austin, Texas (where the Headquarters is located.) This social media account is successful due to its overall image. It’s artsy, hip, and new, and this is attracting a lot of viewers. By flipping through the pictures, you would think this is the Instagram account of a young “hipster,” not a major organic grocery store. The personal touch is what makes this site so successful.

On the whole foods official website, you can access all of these social media sites. They have incorporated a social media “deck” on their site that shows their most recent posts via Facebook, Twitter, or on their blog. The website is aesthetically brilliant, incorporating bright color, impeccable graphic design features, and witty sayings that add a touch of humor. These features are what attract consumers, and they are using it to their advantage. Due to the fact that their website alone is both organized, and uniquely designed, consumers are bound to look more into Whole Foods other social media sites.

American Express + Social Media

By: Hilliary Hallman and Monica Longoria

According to Todd Wasserman of Mashable, American Express has moved from “virtually zero social media presence in 2009” to one of the current top dogs in social media. The card company has taken great strides to improve customer relations, and consequently, J.D. Power and Associates has ranked AmEx the highest in customer satisfaction for the sixth consecutive year as of last month.

In an interview with Mashable, Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development, proposed that the two major factors contributing to their social media success were the introduction of Small Business Saturday and their promotion of Sync at SXSW.

AmEx on Facebook:

  • American Express currently has 2,590,182 “likes.”
  • The page has 67,417 Facebook users talking AmEx.
  • AmEx updates with relevant posts almost every day.
  • Most of the posts are exclusive offers, event promotion, or questions to engage customers.
  • AmEx utilizes Facebook apps, photos, videos, and events.

AmEx on Twitter:

  • @AmericanExpress currently has 544,668 followers and 15,235 tweets and tweets everything from exclusive offers to job openings.
  • @AskAmex has 22,996 followers and 50,224 tweets, and its purpose is solely customer assistance.
  • @OPENForum has 153,203 followers and 8,527 tweets and serves to provide “collective ingenuity of other business owners.”
  • Sync hashtags (ex: #AmexTommy) reward card holders with exclusive offers.

AmEx on LinkedIn:

  • American Express has 92,830 followers.
  • AmEx primarily uses the site to post job openings but posts about their product and services as well.

AmEx on YouTube:

  • AmEx has 11,689 followers, 694 videos and almost 19 million total views.
  • The AmEx YouTube channel offers viewers entertaining videos about lifestyle, not just a corporate message.
  • The channel is very active and has new uploads every week.

AmEx on Foursquare:

  • AmEx has built a network of over 65,000 followers.
  • AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011, which allows cardholders to sync their AmEx credit card with their Foursquare account.

    “We don’t have customers. We have members.”


Coca-Cola and its Social Media

Would you believe it if I told you a man created a Twitter account for his 180th birthday?

Doc Pemberton turned 180 years old on July 8th and tweets one to two times per day. Well, it’s not actually Doc Pemberton tweeting, it’s an employee working for Coca-Cola who is developing a fresh marketing campaign for one of the world’s most popular brand names. This Twitter account is actually based off of the man who invented Coke. They have been using his name and image to promote the company by tweeting whimsical thoughts and ideas such as this:

Coke has taken their marketing to an entirely new level. They have created a Twitter account choosing the alias of their (not so well known) inventor and created a successful campaign out of it. This account has over 82,500 followers.

It’s no surprise Coke is still afloat even through the spiraling downside of the economy. The campaigns and marketing techniques are on point and sure to leave an impact to its potential consumers.

Coca-Cola builds their largest vending machine ever and places it in London for the 2012 Olympics. In Doc Pemberton’s time, nobody would have known about this except for the people in London at that time. In today’s age of social media, Coke uses YouTube to further inform the world’s population of their newest invention.

This video has over 44,000 views! The concept of an oversized vending machine attracting this much attention is breathtaking. Again, thanks to social media, but it doesn’t stop there…

Of the Top 10 Brand Names, Coke has the…

  • most Facebook “Likes”
  • most talkability 
  • second highest weekly growth rate
  • second highest monthly growth rate

*Statistics gathered from

To top it all off, Coke is now working with Spotify to integrate music on their Facebook page which now has over 50 million “Likes.”

They have also developed Spotify and Coke branded apps. Did you know there are over 5,000 conversations per day about Coke with just social media?

Coke believes its success in social media is due to its seven values to “achieve sustainable growth online.”

  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Passion
  • Diversity
  • Quality

Ford on Social Media

Ford Motor Company is an American owned automobile company. They sell automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. Ford has been on the market since it was created in 1903 and has recently entered into the social media world.

Ford on Google +

Interview with Scott Monty

Ford on Facebook

  • Their Facebook page has 1,608,281 likes and over 20,000 people currently talking about it
  • Through the company maintained page users can access a page dedicated to their favorite Ford automobile, linking products with the company
  • Through the page Ford has been linking up with other big name companies like Coca Cola and General Mills, this increases their reach

Ford on Twitter

  • Ford’s Twitter page has over 150,000 followers, and they follow over 30,000 users
  • Ford retweets a lot of users, and promotes the use of hashtags to encourage followers to join in on the conversation
  • Ford tweets a lot of photos and videos to get followers engaged, they also ask followers for retweets. (example: “Retweet if you’ve driven a @Ford truck this week”)

Keeping Everything Connected

  • The primary goal of Ford Social is to encourage interaction within the Ford community
  • This page can be accessed through Ford’s website and acts as a gathering place for all things social media
  • From Ford Social users can share stores about your Ford experience, submit ideas, view images and videos, and join in the conversation
  • Ford Social is full of articles and content that have Facebook comments and tweets attached to them

Chandler and Lauren