O2 is continuing to roll out plans to ‘surprise and delight’ customers with another personalised social media campaign for Valentine’s Day.

The mobile operator has created a “digital Love Nest in the Clouds” to deliver Twitter users’ messages via YouTube videos, personally recorded by non-identical twin “O2 Cupids”.

This builds on the success of its #O2Santa stunt over Christmas, in which the company tracked mentions of the hashtag and similarly had a Santa character record people’s requested messages.

O2 head of social media Alex Pearmain said that the efforts at Christmas produced over 40,000 mentions on twitter, was covered on CBS’ breakfast show in the US – and resulted in over 1,000 videos. 

O2 is focusing on creating some ‘surprise and delight’ experiences for our customers and finding new and different ways to connect them – as well as with them as a brand.”

Unlike the Christmas campaign, which was wholly promoted via social media, customers will be informed via emails to its 5m strong newsletter database.

We wanted to make sure that customers have the opportunity to hear about and take part in the activity first, hence using our email programme to alert them ahead of anyone else.”

If people want a totally personal message, customers (and anyone else on Twitter once the campaign breaks) simply tweet the message they would like the O2 Cupids to read out to @O2, including using the hashtag #O2Cupid.

The company says that “every message will be picked up”, and that the personalised videos will be posted to the O2 Cupids’ YouTube Channel.

O2 will even send users’ messages to other people directly, leaving recipients guessing as to who their mystery admirer might be.

The personalised message idea is nothing new. Old Spice lead the way with its ‘Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign in 2010, which was a huge success and sparked a series of copycat attempts. The Muppets used the same tactic just last month to promote its new film, getting Kermit the Frog to record personalised responses to questions sourced from Twitter.

‘Surprise and delight’ is also an age-old customer service method, but the introduction of social media has supercharged this. The idea of being a ‘one of the chosen’, with your personalised treat fully accessible to all, makes it more powerful. The reach is bigger, the reward is bigger, and it’s a simple mechanic that works very well when it’s done right. 

The thing about this technique however, is that though it may seem gimmicky in some situations, it’s actually a very smart ways to create evangelists while benefitting from the positive effects of social media.

You create people who will talk endlessly, possibly for the rest of their lives, about that one time a brand did something amazing – while talking to a broader audience, teasing them with the idea of what they might be part of it if they were a customer.