9 Social Media Elements Worth Personalizing

Sometimes the difference between just OK and truly remarkable is really, really small.

Like the mint on your pillow at a great hotel or the smiley face your friendly waitress draws on your receipt; little things can make a big difference.

The same is true in social media as well. The more that social media becomes automated and scalable for big industries, the further a single, human-sized gesture of goodwill can go.

In that spirit, here are nine little social media elements worth personalizing that you might not have thought about before. Because, small things can bring big results in the form of stronger relationships with your community.

1. LinkedIn Invites

There’s honestly no reason I can think of to send an out-of-the-box, uncustomized LinkedIn invite request. I mean, there must be a reason you want to connect with this person — even if it’s just that you think your social stock will rise by being connected to them. Hey, at least that’s flattering!

At least, add a salutation and their name. If you know them well, mention a topic you’ve spoken about before. If you follow their tweets, blog or posts on a LinkedIn group, say so. If you don’t know the person well but want to, tell them you admire their work — and point to something specific to back it up.

2. Thank-You Tweets

Want to thank all the people who share your content? Great! Do you send the exact same “thanks for sharing” message to all of them? Not so great! Why not respond to all mentions and shares with something a little different for each person?

For a great example of how to do this without spending all your time on it, check out how Gini Dietrich replies to those who shared a post of hers:

personalize-thanks Simple and just as quick; but, it feels more personal, right? That’s the idea.

3. “Thanks For Following” DMs

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one of those automated “Thanks for following me” direct messages on Twitter, I daresay you felt annoyed, not flattered. That’s because these messages aren’t just impersonal — they’re downright spammy.

A better strategy: use your favorite Twitter management tool to examine your new followers once a week (or more often, if you like). Pick out the new followers you’re most excited about and send them a message saying as much. They’ll feel legitimately flattered.

As for those who don’t hear from you? I promise they won’t miss that auto-DM.

4. Posts Sharing Others’ Content

One of the best secrets to becoming a trusted resource and authority on a subject is to be a great curator — that is to say, finding and sharing lots of great content. And, as we consume more content every day, it can seem easier to just spit out lots of links and headlines than to actually comment on the content itself.

But, thoughtful content sharing beats automated, robotic sharing any day. Relay your favorite tip from that great blog post. Add a new viewpoint to a commentary piece. Tell us your favorite part of that video.

Adding your voice to the content you share helps build a relationship with the content’s author and gives all of us seeing your post a real and compelling reason to value your opinion.

5. “Follow Friday” Recommendations

When a “Follow Friday” recommendation on Twitter is done well, it’s a 140-character endorsement of someone’s content that includes a real reason for following. Are they a helpful resource? Are they consistently hilarious? A personalized, individualized approach can lead to the discovery of someone great.

When it’s not done well – and sadly, these cases seem to be the majority – it’s a long list of names that speaks more to the poster’s needs (to associate themselves with others or thank someone who has shared their content) than a potential viewer’s.

If you want to recommend someone, tell us why — and mean it.

6. “You’ve Been Quoted” In Storify

Storify is one of my favorite social media tools – it’s an easy way to pull together content from all over the social Web to create a cohesive story.

One of its best features is that it allows you to notify each person you’ve quoted that you’ve used their tweet, Facebook post, etc. Storify pulls up all of their information and even pre-populates a “publicize” tweet for you.


You could use the tweet as is. But why not personalize it? Thank participants for being so smart and quotable. Ask them to be part of your next Twitter chat or crowdsourced project. Tell them how great it was to meet them at that conference. A personal message is more likely to get their attention — and get their eyes on your content for potential sharing.

7. “Happy Birthday” Messages On Facebook

Facebook-birthdayRemember the days before Facebook, when actually remembering someone’s birthday was a thoughtful gesture? Well, those days are over.

Today, in the harsh words of Slate, the Facebook birthday greeting is everything that is irritating about the social network.

Mostly because it’s literally the least you can do. Facebook keeps up with all those pesky dates and serves them up for you. Surely, you can write something a little more compelling than just the words “happy birthday” on someone’s wall.

8. Social Monitoring Outreach

Let’s say you’re in charge of social media monitoring at the Benson Hotel in Portland, with your ear to the ground in anticipation of travel industry questions you can answer, like “Does anyone know a great hotel in Portland?” When you spot that question, you can send the standard reply to everyone — or you can mix it up.


That personal touch creates a closer connection — and a greater chance the potential customer will choose you.

On Twitter, the Benson does a great job of not only monitoring for mentions, but replying in a friendly and conversational way that hones in on what’s being mentioned.


That kind of attention to detail is the kind of thing that turns a casual fan into a social media superfan.

9. LinkedIn Endorsements

LinkedIn-endorsement Now that endorsements on LinkedIn have been dumbed down to just one click, am I the only one who thinks getting endorsed has lost a bit of its luster?

While racking up tons of clicks for your skills is fine, I’m glad LinkedIn still offers the old-fashioned “actually write something nice about someone” option. If you’re working on genuine relationship-building or an outreach campaign, this is a great strategy.

Have I missed any great tips for forming a personal connection in an automated social media world? Let me know in the comments!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing Column


About The Author: is a content crafter at Buffer. She has been an editor and writer at publications including Allure, Time Out New York, Playboy and The Tennessean. She speaks frequently on social media marketing and community management topics.

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  • http://lonelybrand.com/blog Katherine Leonard

    Nice list Courtney – these all take a matter of seconds but make a big difference. And there’s nothing worse than an unpersonalized LinkedIn invite.

  • http://www.mikewilton.com/ Mike Wilton

    Great piece Courtney! It’s funny you mention the LinkedIn Invites first. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I don’t like adding just anyone to LinkedIn because it leaves you open to spam, or unwanted sales pitches. Because of that, I actually have a line in my LinkedIn profile that says if we don’t know each other personally or professionally and you invite me to connect let me know why you feel we should connect. Unfortunately everyone still just sends me the default text.

    I also like the birthday message idea, I actually try and mix it up a bit. If Facebook, or now Google+, tell me its someone’s birthday I’ll reach out and send them a birthday wish via another social network. I know people get bombarded via Facebook, so its a nice way to change it up a bit.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Thanks, Katherine! And I’m with you – totally the worst!

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    The LinkedIn invite is what inspired the whole post, actually. If given the opportunity, why wouldn’t you personalize? I just don’t get it. Birthday wishes on a different network: that’s a great idea!

  • http://twitter.com/jdags Jeff Dagley

    Thanks Courtney for writing this piece – it’s refreshing to see a focus on slowing down and taking the time to be personal and human in this world of instant, non-committal and one dimensional communication.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Thanks, Jeff – and I’m glad you feel the same way. Automation can never build a relationship the way being a real, engaged person can!

  • J Quigley

    Great article. I’ll definitely think twice before I leave a comment in future. Looking forward to reading more of your threads.

  • Teresha Aird

    Great post, not that I don’t already know all of the above but it is important to remember and do it! The FB birthday wishes is my biggest problem, laziness sets in at the exact moment when a personalized, thoughtful note would mean the most to the recipient.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bennyj01 Ben Jones

    I feel to simply like a comment on your own page is disheartening to the OP. Especially for someone that doesn’t have a myriad of virtual friends. I feel it’s almost better than not receiving the notification.

  • http://www.pimediaservices.com/ Mark Weyland

    Thank you for your suggestions Courtney. Would love to try these tips and make them a regular practice.

    I think if I were at the receiving end of such personalized messages and approaches, I would really enjoy them, feel like a member of the community and feel important as though my presence made a difference. If I can spread them with my associates, I am sure they would feel the same way too. Thank you once again!

  • http://twitter.com/TheINBRGroup The INBR Group

    I loved this article, Courtney. Thanks for writing it.


  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    Courtney! I’m minding my own business, scrolling through this blog post and wham! I see my face. Too funny! I’m glad you like how I thank people. I’m a big believer in personalizing where you can and, heck, it’s less than 140 characters. It’s not that hard.

    As for the rest of the blog post, I have so much to say on every topic you touch on. LinkedIn endorsements are lame. How hard is it to write more than “happy birthday” on someone’s wall? If you don’t know them well enough to personalize it, unfriend them! The #FF? Ug. We do *one* recommendation each week and it’s on Spin Sucks.

    Your point is exactly spot on: Personalize. It’s not that hard and you’ll stand out for it.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Surprise! :) Thanks for providing a great example for me! Actually, reading your “Starbucks story” provided the initial spark for this whole piece. I love the idea that a simple, personal gesture in an impersonal world could make such a difference.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Thanks for reading and for the lovely praise, Eddie! It’s much appreciated. :)

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Thanks so much! I hope spending that little bit of extra time on comments pays off for you in some great relationships. Keep me posted!

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    Wasn’t that a great story? I love my barista.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Right on, Mark! That’s exactly the idea–instead of the “industry standard,” get into the empathy mindset of how it would feel to receive the comment or post.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Good point, Ben! I agree–go the extra mile beyond the simple “like” whenever possible.

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    I agree–remembering and following through is sometimes the biggest challenge. I’ve been known to rely on someecards for many a birthday wish–it’s *slightly* less lazy than just writing “happy birthday” and it’s fun to pick out one that will resonate with the friend.

  • Rvinyl.com

    Thanks for this…it’s easy to get lost in the ever changing world of social media. Thanks to you I found Storify…now we’ll see if I actually can use it!

  • http://twitter.com/RavenCourtney Courtney Seiter

    Oh, I love Storify so much! Here are some ways I use it that might get you going: http://raventools.com/blog/5-ways-to-use-storify-in-your-social-media-marketing/

  • http://www.qnary.com/ Qnary

    Personalizing things on social media is very important because it shows the person on the other end that you put some thought into the message that you sent them. LinkedIn is an important place to personalize messages because many people are beginning to connect to others whom they have never met. It is important to tell that person why you want to connect with them if you haven’t met, otherwise they may ignore your request.


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