By Ángel González
The Seattle Times.
Zulily used to have the sort of Twitter persona you’d expect from an online retail site pushing discounted stuff to busy moms.
When the Seattle company tweeted things like “Chase away those post-Easter dust bunnies with our hand-picked #SpringCleaning essentials,” relatively few consumers paid attention:
As of May, it had 32,000 followers, versus more than 2 million “likes” it had garnered on Facebook. Few of those followers retweeted or turned anything zulily said into a favorite.
But since summer, the site has taken on a more vivacious tone, more like a harried but funny young mother –one prone to nonpromotional, real-life quips like:
My nickname is “Mom” but my real name is MomMomMomMomMomMomMomMom-MomMomMomMomMomMom … #Mom.
That tweet was composed by a former receptionist charged earlier this summer with giving the company an authentic-feeling new voice.
It earned nearly encouraging 26 retweets and 23 “favorites” — not a lot when compared with some of the 140-character utterances of Hollywood stars, but plenty compared to zulily’s previous track record.
It’s a conscious transformation as zulily, which previously focused on image-rich social-media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, seeks to harness the power of the wildly popular Twitter platform.
But increasingly that requires companies to act like a person — more specifically a person who says things other people would like to share.
So organizations from Denny’s to the CIA are cracking jokes on Twitter, says Kate Losse, an early Facebook employee turned chronicler of Internet culture.
“It’s a weird transformation. We’re not used to corporations trying to be funny,” the San Francisco-based writer says.
Zulily executives knew its Twitter efforts to date, focused on promoting sales events, hadn’t won much of an audience.
So they decided in May to try something new. Marketing chief David Atchison and another executive walked over to Alyssa Gay, a communications employee who up until a few months before had been staffing the front desk of the company’s old offices in SoDo.