Be Like Wolfgang: Use Personalized Video

by Stephanie Schwab |

Last week my friend Pam Lewis checked in to the Las Vegas restaurant Spago on Foursquare. Pam is a wonderful blogger, a lover of all things fashion, and a busy mom of two who, like me, uses Foursquare to track her comings and goings for her own use but also to connect with friends and, yes, occasionally a little bit competitively.  On this particular checkin, she won ultimate bragging rights.

You see, Wolfgang Puck, the celebrichef who owns Spago, is a fan of social media.  He’s built a very nice presence for himself on Twitter and in Facebook, and I’ve heard that he’s hosted a number of blogger events in his various restaurants. And apparently, he (well, most certainly his staff) monitors Twitter for mentions of himself or his restaurants.

Foursquare Checkin to Spago

So what did he do when he saw Pam’s checkin?  He created a video for her, of course.  Completely personalized. Funny. Quick. No editing, no muss, no fuss. 34 seconds and done.

Yeah yeah, you say, Old Spice guy did that nearly a year ago.  Sure, but that was a multi-million dollar campaign keyed off of a couple of expensive video shoots with a trained actor. This was a chef, the owner of the company, in his kitchen, personalizing a video for a blogger – and not even a top-top blogger at that (no disrespect to you, Pam, but you know what I mean!).  Needless to say, Pam was incredibly flattered and impressed, and I’ll bet she’ll be back to Spago, or one of Wolfgang’s other eateries, soon.  And of course she blogged about it immediately, spreading the love for Wolfgang to all of her readers.

How can your company touch people in the same way?  It’d be great to have a charismatic, funny-sounding celebrity CEO, that’s for sure.  But you’ve definitely got the talent and brains to pull this off, regardless of the size of your company.  All you need is a video camera (ideally something better than in iPhone, but use what you’ve got) and a bit of time.  Really, just a bit.  I’ll bet you can do this in 30 minutes, tops.

Who’s Your Target Audience?

You can absolutely jump right in without a specific target audience or objectives.  This is meant to be fun and spontaneous, and that spontaneity should be visible to your recipients.  But if you put a few minutes of thought into it, you can decide who you want to focus on as recipients of your videos. If you want to get your video onto a top parenting blogger’s site, figure out what will tickle their fancy (from reading their blog, of course) and then grab the camera. If you want to reward checkins to your establishment, search for people who checked in within the last 24 hours and then check to see who among them is a blogger, or serious Twitterer.  Because while it’s nice to just reach out and touch these people, ultimately you’re probably doing it to increase engagement, which will have greater depth if your recipient has a reasonably-sized community to share your goodness with.  Whatever you choose, it may be helpful to go narrow at first, then expand your effort later.

What’s Your Goal With Personalized Videos?

Are you just looking to delight and amuse? Generate good will and pass-along? Then be a little bit crazy; craft a light outline for the video and riff away, as it appears Wolfgang did. If you’re in the middle of a brand campaign or want to draw attention to a product launch, use the video to engage the recipient on that score – just do it lightly and only after you’ve made sure to say something that makes it clear that this is personalized for them, like Wolfgang did when he mentions Pam’s blog and that he loves fashion (since she’s a fashion blogger). After all, you want your recipients to come away feeling like they’ve been “wowed” – not marketed to.

Who’s On-Screen?

It really doesn’t matter, honestly.  Choose someone within your company who is reasonably good on-camera (looks straight on to the camera, doesn’t mumble, has a nice smile), and whom you trust to speak on behalf of your brand.  Practice once or twice before you shoot, or not, but keep it light and embrace the little mistake that makes it clear this was done quickly, without a lot of fanfare.

But I Don’t Know How To Edit Video

My advice – don’t edit. Shoot a 20-30 second video in one take. Done. Upload quickly and get it out there as soon after the Tweet or blog mention as you can.  No title card, no end cards, nada.  As above, practice if you feel like it, mainly to be sure you’ve got it down in under 30 seconds.  Then just put them up on YouTube (in your branded channel, of course) and send the link to the recipient via Twitter, email or by posting a link in a comment on their blog.

Most Of All, Have Fun

In order for your videos to be the most authentic and cool, this should not be a major expenditure or big time suck. Keep it casual and have a bit of fun with it. Though don’t toss aside your brand voice just to do this; if your brand is really not spontaneous or casual, maybe this type of personalized videos are not for you.

Now go out and create some personalized videos for your fans! Can you do it in 30 minutes or less? I’ll be looking forward to your results; please post links to your final product, as well as your thoughts, in the comments.

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About the Author

Stephanie Schwab

Stephanie Schwab is the Principal of Crackerjack Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in social media planning and execution. Stephanie is also the founder of the Digital Family Summit, the first-of-its-kind conference for tween bloggers and content creators and their families. Throughout her 20-year career, she has developed and led marketing and social media programs for top brands and has presented on social media and e-commerce topics at numerous conferences and corporate events. Stephanie writes about social media at, sometimes hangs out at Google+, and tweets @stephanies.