For the past few days, “look back” videos have been a new recurring theme on my Facebook feed. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the social network, Facebook has made personalized videos based on your profile. Don’t believe me? Take a look at yours.

Mine tempted me with a collage of photos, and the not-so-subtle reminder that I’ve been on Facebook for over 8 years now:

A personalized move by Facebook

I was skeptical when I clicked play, but I was almost in tears by the end of it. As hopeful music played, I was given a chronological walkthrough of my first moments on Facebook – the first profile picture I uploaded of myself, the first grainy concert photos I added to my new profile. From my wedding announcement to the day I paid off my student loans, all of my proudest moments were played back to me, like a yearbook of every interesting thing I’ve ever done. At least, everything Facebook knows about – which is a surprising amount.

Why does this tactic work so well?

Everyone who has access to Facebook has access to their Look back video. But no one else’s Look back video is the same as mine, and mine will never look like anyone else’s. Personalized video is the holy grail of video marketing – it catches your attention, and it keeps you engaged because it’s not speaking at you – it’s speaking about you.

Facebook is a unique case – they have access to a wealth of personalized information, and they used a fine-tuned algorithm to produce this video. While not every company will have their prospect’s ultrasound photos on hand, personalized video doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming to create.

Wow your customers with personalized content

If your company has an online presence, you’re already sitting on a treasure trove of data about your customers behaviour – from the day they signed up, to their most successful use of your product. Why not wow your customers or prospects with something truly memorable? Work with the data you have, and be smart about what you personalize versus what stays consistent for everyone.

Personalization is all about details, but it doesn’t mean sitting your team down once per customer to record a video. If you want to send out an account anniversary thank-you, make a template. Have your team pre-record a few thank-you messages, and use a personalized beginning or ending message in each video. The video format stays the same, but the messaging is still clear to your client – we appreciate your business enough to say thank you personally.

Send video content based on your prospect’s behaviour. With marketing automation systems tracking a prospect’s every move around your site, it’s no secret what they’re most interested in anymore when it comes to your product offering. Having video content that dives into a specific portion of your product offering means you can send out videos to prospects that show interest in a specific feature, and measure the resulting conversion.

Record a web-cam pitch, demo, or thank-you from your sales team. Almost every computer comes equipped with a webcam, and most smartphones easily record in high-definition. After a successful demo, have your sales team record a short video answering major questions that came up, or thanking your prospect for their time. You can share the video straight through your CRM (via Salesforce Chatter), and see who’s watched the extra content.

Taking personalized video to the next level

We’ve talked about Old Spice before – pretty recently in fact. Old Spice is leading the way in video marketing, taking their “Old Spice Guy” meme to the extreme. As early as 2010, they launched an ambitious campaign in which followers could tweet their questions, and the Old Spice Guy would respond to them by name.

Just check out their short response to Ellen:

The brand continued to respond to over 75 tweets, emails and Facebook replies, including a well-placed response to Isaiah Mustafa’s daughter.

Proctor and Gamble may have replied to a ton of messages, but what they really did was show brand fans that they’d go above and beyond for them with personalized, fun sketches built just for them. Think about where your company can use this type of targeted approach with video.

Narrowcasting to the extreme

Facebook built their Look back videos to be shared, but in reality, they only really care about one viewer – me. Personalized video requires marketers to throw away most conventional logic around video in favour of focusing exclusively on one prospect. Your personalized video won’t get millions of views – you’ll be lucky if you get one. But that one view makes all the difference.

Personalized video represents a unique take on video marketing, because it’s using the visually engaging power of video to target individuals rather than creating video for mass distribution. That being said, when you’re working on closing a big deal or maintaining an important relationship, personalized service is the key to separating you from your competitors.

Jon Spenceley