Forget shiny object syndrome. Does the widespread adoption of social media mean that companies are doing business in a better way by listening more closely to customers?

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is well known for delivering (aka selling) customer happiness as opposed to shoes or other apparel. In other words, the reason you shop online at is because the customer service is so extraordinary and the process of ordering and returning is so simple that you feel, er, delighted. It makes you happy to buy from Zappos. At the same time, Hsieh creates a joyful culture inside this company so that it’s fun to work there.

But Hsieh is not the only one doing this. Companies as diverse as Comcast and Clearspring (maker of AddThis, the popular sharing button) are following suit by paying much closer attention to customers.

At the Dec. 7, 2010 Sweets and Tweets in DC, AddThis’s Justin Thorp will talk about his new job title, Director of Customer Happiness, and how he tries to “move the needle” (his words) in his role as community manager.

The familiar red AddThis button is now seen by over 1 billion Web users worldwide and is used by the White House, the Dalai Lama, the British Monarchy and millions of other websites to distribute and track digital content. Clearspring was recently named one of 10 D.C. Startups You Need to Know About.

Moving the Needle Using Social Media

“Community or social media manager puts the wrong spin on what I do,” Justin told me. Facebook and Twitter are just tools, he said. As the adoption of social media becomes mainstream “it’s about who’s using social media to actually move the needle. That’s what I think about and focus on day to day.”

His official job as Director of Customer Happiness is to be the public face and voice of Clearspring. He listens to mentions of AddThis on the major social networking platforms. And then interacts in such a way that customers (or prospects) are, literally, happier.  He answers questions and solves immediate problems as well as making customers more satisfied over the long-term.

Is this a better way to do business?

What is a community manager? Does your organization need one if you are “listening” and “interacting” via social media? Is Director of Customer Happiness a better title? We’ll be discussing this while eating the AMAZING, dense, delicious cupcakes served up at the very cool Baked and Wired in DC’s Georgetown.

Though only 26, Justin is well-known to DC’s tech community. He’s been with Clearspring almost three years and previously advised the Library of Congress on Web and blogging strategy. I’ve known him for just about that long and can say he’s the real deal: generous, savvy about all things social media and a connector. If you’re in DC, hope you’ll join us Dec. 7th from 7:00 – 8:00 PM.