Making Marketing Personalized, But Not Creepy

Kimberly Surico |
 11/06/15 |
4 min read

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For the past few years, anyone in the social marketing sphere has heard – repeatedly – how important personalization is to the equation. Brands looking for conversion from social know they need to step up their game if they want to be not just noticed, but memorable – not just an option, but the only option.

The only way to do that is to connect H2H (human to human) with your customers and prospects – which means knowing all of their deepest, darkest secrets.

Okay, that’s a mild exaggeration, but you DO want to know a lot about them. And you want to use all you know to your advantage, to impress consumers with how well you know them.

That is, without being creepy about it.

If that’s been a challenge, then you’re in the right place. Because it turns out that you CAN go deeper than ever without turning consumers off.

This deeper level is what NetBase calls Audience 3D and it blows the roof off of everything you thought you knew about targeting – with the added bonus of taking the creep-factor out of the equation and allowing you to target to scale for multiple audience segments.

Leave no social stone unturned

Ever been introduced to someone by a friend who says, “Joe, this is Margaret – you both work in an office!” as if that amazing fact should immediately spark a dazzling conversation and life-long connection? But then the actual conversation goes something like, “So, uh, you guys have a Keurig in your office?”


“Us too.” (Insert sound of crickets chirping awkwardly.)

Superficial similarities don’t equal connection – not in real life, not on social media. Which is why the first part of personalized targeting is intelligence gathering – the “getting to know you” portion of the process. And here’s where you might be unintentionally limiting yourself. Because you’re probably tracking things like likes, mentions, retweets, impressions, and maybe even a few keywords.

But remember – this is 3D we’re talking about (sit down, 360-degree view), and none of the old standbys provide you with much depth or context. And there’s SO much more you can be learning about your followers, like:

  • What brands they love – Don’t just focus on YOURS, but other brands as well.
  • What they’re excited to buy – Again, it’s not just about YOUR products, but anything they might be spending on.
  • Which causes they care about – And why. And how much. Maybe they’re the same causes your brand cares about.
  • The influencers that move them – Do they love Oprah? Do YOU? (Who doesn’t, seriously?) Are they addicted to The Good Wife? NPR? It all matters.

Do you notice a trend in each of these points? First, they’re not about your brand, per se – they’re all about the consumer. (Yup – it’s all about them.) Secondly, they all contain an emotional component. Knowing what consumers feel, and how deeply they feel it, can give you a huge advantage over the brands just measuring superficial metrics.

When you take the time to learn about the emotions and behaviors that drive your customers and prospects, you enable much deeper segmentation. It’s basically relationship building, but it’s happening with information you can access and act on in real-time. No lines, no waiting. And room to grow.

Now, how do you USE that data you’ve collected?

Look at us, we’re just like you!

Once you’ve got the data, you can choose a pre-defined audience segment (like Millennials) or create your own (like Millennials who like to eat tacos while watching The Mindy Project) and craft your messaging to appeal broadly or specifically as the case may be. And what’s awesome is that if you do it right, you don’t even have to worry about coming across as creepy. But here’s an example in case you’re not sure:

Creepy is: Seeing an ad on Facebook for the store you were just browsing off Facebook

Consumer reaction: Ew! Stop stalking me on Facebook, Clothing Brand!

Creepy ISN’T: Posting to a targeted audience “30 minutes ‘til #Survivor – time to get the #pizza in the oven. What’s your fave topping?” from your pizza brand’s Twitter account.

Consumer reaction: I love Survivor! AND pizza! Thank God I have time to run to the store! Well played, Pizza Brand.

Both tactics put your brand in front of the consumer, but one has them feeling annoyed, and the other has them running out to buy your pizza.

The other reason the 3D approach is brilliant is because it gives you a more well-rounded personality as a brand. Just like no one wants to date that person who talks incessantly about themselves, no one is moved to purchase by constant “Buy our stuff! Buy our stuff! Buy our stuff!” marketing. In fact, that kind of messaging becomes invisible after a while. And soliciting likes and retweets only takes you so far.

You want people talking about you online, with intensely positive emotions behind the conversation, and the only way to achieve that is by deepening your social listening so you can create personalized content that springs directly from your audience’s lifestyle, language, and worldview.

When you do that, no way they’ll think you’re creepy. They’ll probably mistake you for a friend. What could be higher praise?

How much do you know about your audience? Are you guilty of creepy marketing? Tell me – I promise it’s between us!

Learn more about Audience 3D

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