"Personal Media" used to be a synonym for social media. That fell by the wayside a few years ago. Still, so much of social media is captivating because we reveal our personal interests and opinions, allow and invite personal connections with others and, in general, look for a more personal approach in our communications.
Brands should not lose sight of this when using social media and trying to get ideas to scale. Royal Dutch Airline, KLM, knows this. Here's how The Next Web (great resource) describes the program:
"When passengers check in at KLM’s Foursquare locations, the KLM Surprise team then uses social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to find out information about the passenger...The KLM Surprise team then uses this information to come up with a personalized gift to surprise the passenger with. The team follows up after surprising a passenger by monitoring the conversation generating on social networks by that person and their friends. They also take photos of the people they have surprised and post them to the KLM Facebook page."
@AmericanExpress (cl) is known to do the "twitter fairy" from time to time. That's when a brand listens to customers talk about their experience with a brand and surprise a customer with a personally-relevant gift (e.g. "I saw you redeemed points for a trip to NYC, here are 2 tix to BonJovi on us..."). That the surprise is made public through facebook pictures or other amplification of social media adds reach and if done well, is not disingenuous. This is a brilliant way to generate high-quality word of mouth and is a great part of an overall strategy in social media. However, it will die under its own weight if mistaken for a stand-alone strategy.
Does it scale?
Naysayers can kill a great tactic by insisting that everything deliver on all of the needs of a marketing plan. They would criticize these types of programs saying they cannot scale to a big enough program to have a positive impact on business. Public displays of customer appreciation can easily reach more than the customer, herself. Other Twitter followers see the Twitter fairy do her thing. Other KLM customers in the terminal or on Facebook see a brand getting personal and caring. Still, that's not te type of scale that hard core marketers want to see.
Then advertise. Then build a great social media strategy that includes the Surprise team and social grassroots (our approach to activating large communicties to 'care to share'). Add scale through complimentary tactics and ideas. Dont make every individual idea carry all of the water for a program.
The best, most effective social media is integrated social media. The best strategy weaves together the complex strengths of different social media platforms and behaviors. Offering a genuine personal touch is one of the great things brands can do thanks to the amount of personal preferences and tastes we are all sharing out there.
Make getting personal part of your strategy.