'Real-Time' Marketers: Personalize Away, But Stay Out Of #Personal Space

Real-time marketers want to be with it. They want to tweet about the show consumers are watching or send a Facebook message about tonight’s event. In short, real-time marketers want to get buddy-buddy with their audience, and the easiest way to do so is via social media.

Social media lets the audience know you understand. It lets them know that you’re cool, too -- because you’re also watching the Super Bowl. It makes you much more personable (or however personable a cookie can get, which is probably not that much).

Be wary, however, of invading the audience’s personal space.

I was at the Mobile Insider Summit in Tahoe, Calif. this week, surrounded by some of the best minds in mobile marketing. Naturally, a few stories were shared. And naturally, 95% of them were about mobile marketing in some form.



Lauren Moores, VP of analytics at audience targeting firm Dstillery, was hungry for some In-N-Out once she landed in Reno. She took a picture of her meal  -- and what would Instagram be, really, if it weren’t for food pictures? -- to share on Instagram and make her East Coast friends jealous.

But it wasn’t her friends’ comments that caught her attention. It was a comment from a fitness company that Moores has no affiliation with, telling her to stop by their Reno location and work out.

Moores had used #Reno in her Insta-post, which is presumably how the fitness company found her picture. Whomever was running that social media account was likely told to engage with #Reno posters, and it’s possible they completely ignored the content of Moores’ post and simply engaged away. Of course, these are just my assumptions, but it’s not all that hard to imagine.

Rather than being personable, the comment could have been construed as offensive. A fitness company commenting on a picture of a hamburger and telling the photographer to come work out? No marketing degree is required to see the potential problem there.

Another Mobile Insider Summit attendee shared a similar story, although his came with a different lesson. He took a picture, shared it on Instagram and tagged it with #Tahoe. A local photographer commented on the picture asking the Summit attendee to come check out his gallery. (At least I think it was a photographer extending invites to a gallery, but the job and the event in question aren’t important to the story.)

Anyway, the comment made the Summit attendee feel pretty good about himself. The local photographer noticed his picture! He took the time to personally comment!

The good feelings died when the Summit attendee decided to look at other posts with #Tahoe and saw the exact same comment that was left on his picture on every single other #Tahoe post.

Essentially, the personalization was good and built affinity … until it turned sour after it was discovered that the personalization was a farce. It’s a fine line that marketers walk between pleasing their audience and insulting them.

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