Social Media Marketing

Personalized Social Media Marketing: Five Tips To Make Personalization Work Without Turning Away Customers

The purpose of personalized social marketing is to connect audiences and existing customers through data in order to deliver an optimal marketing experience. In order to target potential customers more effectively, businesses can collect and use data to identify patterns and connect with customers through social media. Marketers and sales teams use these insights to identify their target audiences and nurture leads throughout the buyer journey. 

However, my experience has collected data that paints a different picture. We’ve seen that personalization can come across as creepy or frightening in the earliest stages of contact. 

Personalized Social Media Marketing Today 

The idea behind this is that it shows the client you’re prepared and aren’t just spamming dozens of leads with the same boilerplate message. The intention is to prove that their business is important enough that you did your homework to create a message just for them. 

Right now, much of the conventional wisdom from marketing and sales experts say you should spend time crafting personal communication and messages for every potential client. It creates a more satisfying customer experience and returns higher marketing returns. 

  • Advertising that is less generic – In the age of personalization, consumers are becoming less accepting of generic ads. Most customers are frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences. Over 70% of shoppers respond to marketing only when it’s tailored to their needs.
  • Personalized product recommendations – A personalized recommendation increases the likelihood of a consumer buying by 75% according to research.
  • Lead generation through network and social selling tools – As a result, not only do you create a consistent brand presence among target audiences, but you also generate warm leads, e.g. on LinkedIn. 

Five Tips To Remember About Successful Personalization 

Tip 1: Too much too fast – first contact isn’t the time to dive deep 

Too much personalization too quickly can undoubtedly make you stand out, but it’s not always in a positive light. Research proves that deep personalization increases feelings of intrusiveness, so it often has the opposite effect of making people more resistant to interaction. 

Imagine a first-date scenario where your date mentions a particular moment you shared on social media ten years ago or refers to siblings you haven’t told them about. 

Sure, this information is publicly available, and you probably expected that person to browse your profile, but making direct references early in your acquaintance can be unsettling. At best, it might be an annoyance. At worst, it could cause insecurity or a feeling like someone is stalking you. 

The same is true for client relationships. Almost everyone knows that personal data is aggregated and analyzed by companies for various marketing purposes. Still, there’s a kind of silent agreement that we don’t make obvious references to it. 

Additionally, companies may use analytics programs to track more specific data, such as how much time a person spends reading a presentation they were sent. Most people don’t expect this kind of deep analysis of their actions, and finding out about it can be off-putting.

Tip 2: When you’re too specific, it’s easy to miss the mark 

Another important reason to be careful about personalized messaging is that it opens up room for blunders. 

Before you’ve built a relationship with a client, it’s easy to accidentally misinterpret the information you’ve gathered, which hinders the relationship you’re trying to establish. 

If your first contact with a potential customer is with a hyper-specific message about their company, you can always risk completely missing the target. Possibly he hasn’t updated his new company yet and doesn’t know what you are advertising. This kind of off-topic opener can lead to confusion or annoyance, which spoils their first impression of you. 

The good news is that the alternative of using a more generic message can work well if done correctly. 

Tip 3: We Want to Find Meaning in Generalizations 

A vital tip to remember is that, as humans, our brains are wired to find personal meaning in a generalized message. Well-studied examples of this include the Barnum Effect (which is seen most often with horoscope popularity) and the Pollyanna principle (seen in the popularity of inspirational messages).

When there is a certain level of abstractness to a message, our minds automatically seek to fill in the blanks with meaning relevant to our personal lives. 

In a lead-generating context, it’s often better to use a less-specific communication for first contact. If you leave it just abstract enough, the client can decide how they view you and what your interactions can look like in the future. The beginning of the relationship feels more organic, so they are more likely to be receptive to further contact.

Tip 4: The Trends Have Shifted: With Personalization, Less is More

We’ve come full circle with effective marketing strategies. Five to ten years ago, everyone used standardized scripts in email marketing. They were simple and effective. Once spammers flooded the internet, everyone had to switch to a more personalized approach to differentiate from spam. 

Around 2020, personalization became less effective because spam became more sophisticated and personalized. Now, people have made the connection that personalization means someone is trying to sell you something, which has further devalued the strategy. 

In addition, our case data shows that standardized messages are more effective for lead generation. One team chose a generalized approach, and they found that more superficial personalization based only on a person’s job title resulted in a 36 percent response rate and a 6 percent conversion rate. In concrete numbers, that translates to 16 leads in three months.

The second team used a deep personalization strategy based on individual and company data. This only garnered a 24.4 percent response rate. The conversion rate was 9 percent, but it’s important to contextualize these numbers: We only got three leads in three months with this approach.

When we looked at the results holistically, we noticed that the conversion rate for deep personalization was slightly higher. However, this kind of personalization takes much more time compared to standard mailing, which limits the lead generation possibilities.  

Tip 5: Know Your Leads, But Don’t Creep Them Out 

One of the most effective strategies we use is called lead nurturing. With this, we establish a lasting connection by cultivating a low-pressure environment. We reach out, but without immediate pressure to buy something. We interact with photos and posts without a sales pitch. This builds trust and helps clients feel like you’re not just trying to get something out of them. 

Personalization is an excellent tool for establishing relationships. Still, in the early stages of contacting leads, it’s best to keep the message generic so that you don’t make contacts feel like Big Brother is watching.

Olga Bondareva

In the course of her studies, Olga was a participant in the Microsoft Student Partners program and served as a Microsoft tech evangelist. After completing her studies, she started working at Microsoft as a Digital Marketing Specialist and quickly progressed to the position of Social Media Marketing Lead in Central and Eastern Europe. At Microsoft, she was responsible for the company's social media presence in Central and Eastern Europe, digital projects, Social Selling, and Employee Advocacy programs. After leaving Microsoft, she became the Co-Founder and CEO at ModumUp.

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