Facebook Instant Personalization’s Impact on Small Town Businesses

by Joanne Steele on February 4, 2011

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Facebook privacy Venn diagramFacebook has been slowly rolling out their new Instant Personalization feature, with the option turned on for everyone a few days ago.

What is Instant Personalization?

Now, your Facebook information that you’ve set to “Everyone” will be shared under limited circumstances with partner websites with the goal of providing you a more personalized experience on those sites.

Supposedly, your friends’ reviews will appear first. Your favorite music will be more readily available. Your interests as expressed on Facebook will be used to configure what you see instantly on these sites.

Only those specific sites with agreements with Facebook have access, and you have to grant permissions.

Should you be concerned about privacy as an individual?

Hopefully you’re using Facebook with care, realizing that “privacy” has a new and constantly changing definition. It’s best to only post and link to what you wouldn’t mind your mother, your boss and a prospective employer to see.

By allowing Instant Personalization, you might find that your experience at partner sites better reflects your style and needs. There is no indication that your choices will be limited, but what you immediately see will be different.

Don’t feel comfortable with that? Here’s how Zack Whittacker at ZDNet suggests you turn Instant Personalization off.

How to turn it off

1. Log into Facebook. In the top right hand corner, click Account, and then Privacy Settings.

2. Under the heading Apps and websites, select Edit your settings.

3. Under the heading Instant personalization, select Edit settings. You may see a popup called ‘Understanding instant personalization’. Just hit Close.

4. At the very bottom of the page, simply untick the box labeled Enable instant personalization on partner websites. This will instantly turn off partner websites accessing your data.

If, however, the option is greyed out but still ticked, this means that Facebook has not yet activated instant personalization just yet. It takes time. Check back in a few hours, or the next day.

As a business owner, what does Instant Personalization mean to your marketing?

We’re moving more and more into an era of ultra personalization. It is becoming less and less likely that your customer will accidentally trip over information online about your business.

You must embrace engagement or long-tail marketing if you want to be seen online by your prospective customers.

You must take the plunge and focus like a laser on the particular people your business is designed to serve. It’s not enough to be a rafting company, a guide service, a nice little town with a picturesque historic district, a gift shop.

Your marketing needs to zero in you those people who you are in business to serve.

Your rafting company: Families or roughnecks looking for class V whitewater?

Your gift shop: People looking for locally produced items or specific labels of collectibles?

Your town: Fishermen? Foodies? Family campers?

Out of fear that you’ll miss someone, you might be tempted to market using a shotgun approach, trying to appeal to everyone. By doing that, you’ll appeal to nobody and this era of instant personalization will marginalize you even further.

As an individual Facebook user, you might decide to turn off Instant Personalization.

As a business owner, you must face the consequences of this new feature and be prepared for the fact that your customers will probably be leaving it on.

More posts on engagement marketing and identifying your Perfect Customer:

3 Ways “Cultural Fragmentation” Helps Rural Business

Rural Tourism Marketing Secret: Step Into the Mind Of Your Customer

Social Media: Rural Tourism Business Success by Losing Control

Photo on Flickr by MJMonty

1 Kim Phillips February 9, 2011 at 6:34 am

Curious how the “shotgun” approach will miss people, in the context of this Facebook wrinkle. Could you expand on that?

2 Joanne Steele February 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Hi Kim, Another good Internet marketer, Sheila Scarborough, calls it “spray and pray.” It’s that traditional approach where you send out a general marketing message hoping that somehow you’ll connect with the right person and exactly the perfect time. Nowadays, people are determining online where and when those connections are made through their keyword searches and using links that capture their attention. Generalized marketing messages miss the mark, while focused messages hit their targets and have a better chance of leading to action, ie, sales, reservations, sign-ups.

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