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:
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
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
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
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.