Twitter is being implemented and embraced in a lot of large organizations. But it's often a network recruiting and internal comms departments naturally often shy away from.

In an organizational setting for the recruiting department, Twitter for employees can be intimidating and daunting. It's public -- very public -- and seemingly uncontrollable.

We're natural skeptics, so we were interested in seeing what companies were taking advantage of the free and popular social network in their recruiting departments.

That's when we noticed Zappos, the online shoe and clothing store giant, was not only using Twitter, but absolutely succeeding at it in a recruitment context.

Twitter as an enterprise social network screenshot

We spoke to Rocky Manzon (Recruiting) and Joshua Weaver (Social Marketing Lead), some of the Zapponians behind @InsideZappos, to get their take on how they're making social work at Zappos as a recruiting and engagement tool.

Bananatag: Tell us a little bit about the start of @InsideZappos.
Joshua: The account started back in 2008. Our CEO Tony Hsieh has been very open in his love for Twitter, and that was the time when Zappos started moving more towards the platform. If you do a search for Zappos on Twitter, we have a whole list of accounts, and then we have a long list of Zapponians who actually have ‘Zappos’ in their username.

Rocky: In 2014 recruiting decided to do away with job postings. They wanted to create this social media presence by creating this insider program hence, @InsideZappos. It’s more of having people who don’t understand what Zappos is and might want to see what it is to be inside Zappos.

B: How do you get employees to engage with Twitter feed?
R: Currently we have a biweekly Tweet chat. For employees to join, it’s as simple as saying 'come join if you have time at your desk, just click that link and it’s kind of like a chat room with Tweets in realtime'. It’s mainly the recruiting team that hosts the Tweet chat...we wanted another channel for the public to interact with us. Through this biweekly Tweet chat, employees can join in when they can and interact with each other and the public.

B: What’s your favorite thing about Twitter?
R: Obviously that it’s very instant. I like the fact that it gives another option for people to contact us. At Zappos, we’re lucky in that we can actually have fun with Twitter. We don’t have a specific way of saying things -- we’re being ourselves. If you have a question for a recruiter, that recruiter can easily respond back to you; you can direct message and start chatting. We just had somebody on the Tweet chat that actually got an interview and visited campus this week. It was really cool to see someone go from a Tweet chat to an actual candidate. So it’s great to connect those dots.

B: Have you noticed a lot more employees starting accounts and logging on Twitter?
R: We’ve definitely seen more individuals on Zappos interact with @InsideZappos since we’ve started the Tweet chats. There's a huge benefit to opening it up to everyone, whether they’re Zapponians or individuals interested in Zappos. It is purely open and honest communication via Twitter. And this is coming from that social marketing lead. We tried very hard to put zero limitations on the way people respond.

B: When you started the profile, what guidance did employees get on Twitter, if any?
J: We didn’t give them any guidance on purpose. When we hire at Zappos, the character assessment is incredibly important to a new Zapponian. Everyone goes through training and really learns to embrace the ten core values. At that point we have no need to guide them any further. We know they’re going to be open and honest and have their weirdness, and communicate with family and team spirit in mind. So we don’t have to have a social document that says ‘this is what you can and can’t talk about’. We assume that if they’re at Zappos, they’re smart enough to get the culture and the worst thing we can do is edit communication.

"When you have a strong mission statement, purpose or core values, in your company, you’ll be able to do away with a lot of those rigid structures."

B: We know that negative feedback, both internally and externally is a concern for a lot of companies. Do you have a negative feedback process or a damage control plan if you need it?
J: As social grew, we realized we needed to start bringing some customer loyalty team members into social to bring that world class customer service to Twitter. We now have ten individuals who handle all responding. If you comment to Zappos, send us a direct message on Instagram or Twitter, it’s one of those ten incredibly trained customer loyalty members who’s responding to you.

We’re incredibly confident that we could be hands off, and if there’s negative feedback, they can respond to is as best they could. When we were looking for team members to join us to help with the responding, we learned that it would be waaay easier to train incredible customer service employees how to do social, than to train social pros great customer service. It’s been very successful. We haven’t run into a situation where we’ve needed to take the reigns. I can go away on holiday for a week and feel confident that nothing is going to break while I’m gone.

B: It’s awesome you’re giving employees this kind of freedom and it’s also like you’re instilling that in the public too, that you like to hire great people and they also have their own beliefs and that’s totally okay.
J: Yeah and another thing is that when you have a strong mission statement, purpose or core values, in your company, you’ll be able to do away with a lot of those rigid structures and beliefs. Once you can start hiring for those values, you won’t need to worry about what employees say on or off the clock.

B: As a social media marketer, do you try to measure and see how big of an impact your work is making with analytics?
R: I’m always curious to see what people like and what they Retweet. That helps me focus on what we should be Tweeting out to the public. Do people want to see photos of food contests and vendor parties or do they want to hear the voices from the people that actually work at the company? I’ve seen both be successful but on the recruiting end at least, we’re still trying to find that voice. I'm always wondering, what do people really want to know in terms of employment? The public might be wondering, why should I care and why should I want to work at Zappos?

B: Now more personally, do you feel like Twitter connects you guys?
J: From a personal standpoint I know I talk to others at Zappos on Twitter. Those in the company who want to find each other will find each other and a lot of them are public. But at the same time I’m on Twitter regularly and I make sure it’s very apparent that those are my opinions, I just happen to work at Zappos. We try to keep it separate but at the same time, we are still a representative of Zappos so we keep that in mind, which is really important for any company.

"Find your voice and what you really want to tell to the world about your company."

B: Any advice for other companies who want to embrace Twitter?
R: Find your voice and what you really want to tell to the world about your company. When I was on the recruiting team, it kind of felt like we were losing our voice. We were just snapping pics here and there without any substance. I wanted to reel that back in and share what we as employees have to say because maybe not everyone wants to know about the hot dog eating contest. Some might want to know other helpful information, for example, if I’m a parent interested in working at Zappos, can I relocate to Las Vegas? Is it a great city to live in? We have people here that relocated and we can say it’s a great place for families to live. It’s really important to find your voice and what you want to share with the public as employees.

J: My only piece of advice would be to find people who are passionate about a specific channel and get out of their way. It could be anything: Twitter, Insta, Snapchat, Periscope, etc. Find that passionate individual, let them go for it, then circle back, check your wins and fails, learn from that and let them go at it again. From the main @Zappos account, we’ve also done away with our content calendar because it’s trying to stick to a schedule when social is supposed to be a two-way conversational street -- it's just a detractor. You don’t know where the conversation is going to go, you don’t know what will trend, what the focus of that day is going to be, so trying to plan for it is a waste of time and it will bog you down. Keep it as original, as fluid as possible, let those who are passionate take it where they want to go.

Thanks so much to Rocky and Joshua at Zappos for taking the time to speak with us about the awesome things they're doing with social! If you're interested in learning more about how to adopt and measure engagement on your social or ESN, check out our article on why you need to get on the social train.