Starting the little network of friends has allowed me to get advice and feedback from some of the smartest minds on the Net in a vast array of niches. I mean, these people are sharp. (I’m quite content being the dummy of this group.)
People often look at the list of members and ask how we managed to get such an impressive group of on board. It wasn’t rocket science. In fact, it was easy. But it took time.
You see, we wrote personal emails to each member. Each email contained a reason why that particular member would find our group compelling.
The fact that we were having a discussion with each member instead of me sending a bulk email was critical to their acceptance. We crafted each email with that particular member in mind. Oh, and it wasn’t pushy. (Being pushy never, ever, convinces.)
Not everyone we emailed joined the group. Some never responded, others just politely declined. But the majority of bloggers we reached out to said yes.
The “Spray-n-Pray” Method is Worthless
The internet has enabled us to blast people with a broadcast so easily. Facebook, Twitter, all rely on the fact that you can send the same message quickly and easily. Yet the conversion on those broadcasts are terrible.
Here are some of my own very un-scientific examples.
- Even though I have over 5,000 followers on Twitter, when I share links they only get somewhere around 35-50 clicks.
- When I created an event on Facebook for Chris’ book tour last Fall, I invited around a 150 very targeted people that a) I was personally friends with and b) I thought would be interested in hearing him talk. Only one person showed up.
- Countless times I’ve seen and sent text “bombs” to 10 or more friends, and am lucky to get one reply. However, if I send a personal message to each friend, I’ll usually get all to respond.
We get so many unpersonalized messages a day, an event request from even a friend can easily get lost.
This is why personalization is so important, now more than ever.
Personalization is the Difference
People take notice when a lot of personalization is involved. Take design on the internet. If you have a free, stock WordPress theme, you’re going to be really hard to brand. But if you create a unique, custom theme that fits your brand (personality?), then you’ll turn heads.
Another example of personalization. I had the idea a few nights back to simply create a nifty little desktop background for a tongue-in-cheek post I was working on, and eventually my teeny seo guide had an interesting visual aide.
After hitting the homepage of Hacker News, the post received a ton of critical mass. A simple touch of personalization allowed the post to spread virally, getting over–at this time of writing–500 retweets and 170 likes on Facebook, and a weighty hunk of inbound links. This sort of thing happens all the time because humans crave personalization.
But the problem with personalization is that, well, it doesn’t scale. You have to take time to create something interesting and preferably unique. This requires plenty of thought and creativity.
Personalization takes time.
Content farms are–pardon the pun–reaping what they’ve sown. The search algorithms have changed to weigh in favor of those creating truly exceptional stuff. It’s definitely a long-term strategy. But the benefits are so, so worth it.
Photo by Stéfan