Your users know when you’re only pretending to be personal

11 Oct

I really like BestVendor, a site that “helps you find the best work apps to get things done”. Recently, they launched their List-A-Thon feature, a way for users to create their own lists of the tools they use. (There’s a Galavant List. Of course.)

So when their co-founder and head of product Ben Zhuk weighed in on my list with a question about Quicksilver vs Alfred, I was impressed and delighted. Impressed, because it means their team is actively and sincerely engaging with their community of users. And delighted, because a fellow product person liked my GTD toolkit enough to let me know.

But then I got an email from Veronica de Souza, community manager at BestVendor with the subject line: “I loved your BestVendor list!”

And I thought, momentarily, wow.

Until I read the rest of the email:

Hey Stacy!

Thank you so much for your awesome list. As you know, your list is part of the BestVendor List-A-Thon. If you need a refresher of the details, click here. You can check the standings at any time by going to the List-A-Thon tab. The best part is that you can update and add to your list at any time!

Make sure you share your list with your networks to get the most views. You’re just a few views away from winning $1500 or an iPhone 5!

How should you promote your list? Tons of ways! Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Tweet it, share it on Facebook & LinkedIn or shout it from a rooftop!
  • Blog about your list, the “making of” it, how you curated it and why it’s great.
  • Send an email blast to a relevant audience.
  • Submit your list to social content hubs like Reddit, HackerNews, Digg, etc.
  • Comment on other lists and give feedback

And I was neither impressed nor delighted. Because, Veronica, not only do you not love my list, I’m willing to wager that you’ve never even looked at it. I’m actually pretty sure you sent the very same email to all of the users who created lists. And that you don’t love any of them.

Don’t get me wrong – email is a powerful communications medium, and mass email campaigns are a necessary component of doing business on the internet. And even though email marketing is so often a mass medium, it’s possible to make your campaigns feel more personal (or at the very least, more intelligently targeted).

But insincerity masquerading as personalization, however well-intentioned, is jarring. I don’t need you to love my list, Veronica. And I appreciated the cute puppy gif you included in the original email. But you didn’t need to lie to me – “thanks for sharing your BestVendor list” would have sufficed.

UPDATE: Veronica responded in the comments. Well done, BestVendor team:

Hey Stacy,

My use of the word “love” in the List-A-Thon email was probably a poor choice. Community Managers make mistakes sometimes

That being said, I personally DO read every single list that is submitted to BestVendor. I can speak for the entire team when I say that our interactions with people on the site are 100% genuine. So any “like” or comment you receive from us on a list (or on any other post throughout the site) is genuine.

The email that you received was sent to those who had been the first to enter the List-A-Thon. I didn’t want them to forget about the contest and I wanted to remind them that lists can be updated and edited at any time. But you’re right, “love” was unnecessary, and I value your feedback.

Thanks!

Veronica from BestVendor

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