What I find so interesting though, is how many people are baffled when I answer an email or Facebook message personally. It's like they expect to be ignored or sent some sort of stock response.
First of all, I'm not even close to being a big enough deal to need that sort of automation.
Second of all, where did we as a culture get this idea that online interaction should be any less personal than being in person? Most of us wouldn't ignore others, give automated responses, or have an assistant talk for us in real life. So why do we think it's okay online?
I understand that there are some actual celebrities who receive so many messages that it's simply impossible to respond to each one personally. I don't think any of those big shots read this little blog though. For 99.9% of us, making the small, simple effort of giving a personal response, both online and off, will dramatically increase the depth of commitment from our audience/community.
Because personalized online interactions are so rare, they are one of our biggest opportunities for attracting what Kevin Kelly calls, True Fans. In the last six months, I've had countless experiences where someone who simply enjoyed my work was immediately transformed into a dedicated fan, simply because they received a personal response from me.
Personalizing online interactions is a HUGE opportunity for those of us trying to build an online platform.
It isn't any sort of special formula or skill. It's just flat out effort.
It won't gain you 500,000 Twitter followers. It will gain you one true customer, fan, and friend at a time, which is worth a whole lot more in the long run.