Seven Reasons People Unfollow Brands on Social Media

People are always going to unfollow brands on social media, no matter what. Yes, that’s the cold, hard truth, people. You gotta accept it.

And no, I’m not saying or even remotely suggesting that it doesn’t hurt. Of course, it does!

But you see, here’s the thing – everyone out there is different and the things that please/turn off people (in terms of social media updates) are extremely variable depending a whole lot on their personality, personal tastes, and preferences. And as a business/brand, you are going to find it highly impossible to please each and every one of those hungry palates out there.

But (again), and here’s a big, fat but….you wouldn’t want to knowingly do something which can further provoke folks to unfollow you.

Which is why it might be a good idea to keep a close watch on these 7 reasons which can influence your followers to run away from you – well, maybe not literally, but you know what I mean, “unfollow”, “unlike”, “unsubscribe” and the likes.

I gathered these answers from a survey conducted by BuzzStream and Fractl where they questioned more than 900 social media users to better understand why they unfollow brands.

Let’s go ahead and take a closer look at the reasons cited one by one and figure out what your business can do to stay away from them at all costs.

1. The content is repetitive and boring

The topmost reason why people unfollow brands on social media? If the content you share makes them yawn!

21% of the respondents will unfollow a brand if they find their content to be repetitive and boring.

Quite understandable.

There’s way too much competition out there for you to consider sharing content that is repetitive or boring. You just have to be innovative on social media. There’s no exception to that rule!

People follow brands on social for very specific reasons and if you’re going to resort to posting repetitive/boring content, you can kiss the folks who follow you goodbye (maybe forever, unless something magically changes their mind to make them wanna like you once again).

In fact, people following brands on social media really care about the importance of fresh, new (in other words, non-boring) content. In the order of importance, the social activities that matter to people when the following brands are;

  1. New content in each post.
  2. Relevant content in each post.
  3. The brand’s response rate – how often does the brand in question engage with their followers?
  4. Frequency of posts – how often does the brand post on their social pages?

So, what steps can you take to make sure your content isn’t repetitive or boring? Read on to find out.

Share new content each time you post an update.

Easier said than done, you might think (and yes, there is an exception to the rule, which I’ll get to right after).

But the golden rule of social sharing has always been about OPC (other people’s content) because they too have nice things to say.

So along with sharing content from your blog (which is obviously recommended) keep things un-boring and un-repetitive by sharing stuff from other people’s sites from time to time.

Use the 80-20 rule to that effect – 20% from your website (blog, sales pages, landing pages etc.)  and 80% from others’ particularly focused towards providing direct value to your social fan base.

Now coming to our exception, and I know you’re heaving a sigh of relief because you might be wondering,

“Share new content EACH time you post an update? That is going to be rather tough.”

The good news is, yes, you can REPEAT what you share on social media because NOT every fan of yours will see the update at the exact same time, right? But how often is the question that lies before us?

Kissmetrics suggests it’s okay to share the same post on Facebook after a month.

I think that is reasonable because repeating the same post on Facebook every day (absolutely NOT recommended) or even every week can turn off your fans.

The rule is much more relaxed for Twitter simply because of its nature.

Again Kissmetrics suggests that it’s okay to tweet out the same content twice every day. (I actually think 5 times a day is okay too, provided you use a different copy each time).

I usually create 7 – 10 different tweet copies for each of my blog posts so that I am not boring people to death with the same 140 characters over and over again.

Throw in some entertainment from time to time.

Wanna be un-boring on social? Resort to entertainment!

This should be a no-brainer, yet most brands completely overlook this aspect of social sharing.

Take Zomato, for example (which is an app to find places to eat near your location). Here is an example of a Facebook image post they shared shortly after the release of Jurassic World.

The post doesn’t talk about Zomato in general nor their app. It talks about food in a subtle manner (sticking to the fact that Zomato is related to food) while focusing on entertainment and current affairs (the movie in this case).

Precisely why I share funny animal videos on my Facebook page from time because I want my followers to be entertained.

Share visually appealing content.

Our brains love visual content! And they are fun to watch/read when compared to text-based updates.

Combine the two and you have the perfect recipe for something “un-boring”.

Share more of images, infographics, and videos to keep things interesting and fresh. For example, instead of sharing your blog post as a link on Facebook, share it as a Slide Share presentation or an infographic.

Take a look at this example from Business Insider’s Facebook page.

Don’t you think the post appeals much more to their audience because it is presented in an entertaining video format?

Avoid using an advertising approach when posting on social.

Pretty much boils down to the 80-20 rule once again.

The more you talk about yourself, the more your audience will perceive you as boring. Add sales-ey to that and it is a recipe for disaster!

Engage with your followers.

Remember, your followers have liked you on social because they want to connect with you, talk to you, voice their concerns towards you, if any.

If you turn a blind eye to their questions, comments, and concerns and just keep posting fresh content every day, it is not going to make you un-boring.

Sharing things on social is the first of a two step process. Share and then, engage.

The key to unlocking the mystery as to why people are unfollowing your brand too often? You are probably only doing the sharing part and not the engaging part.

Take a look at Simple Green Smoothies’ Facebook page as an example. I love the fact that they take the time to respond to each and every comment on their posts. Even if it is just a simple acknowledgment.

Make sure to respond to your followers’ questions and comments, even if it is as simple as saying “thank you”. It will make your followers feel appreciated and valued for and they will certainly not consider you to be a boring brand.

2. The page posts too frequently

The very next reason? If you post too frequently on your social pages.

Close to 19% of the respondents will unfollow a brand on social media if it posts more than 6 times per day. In fact, most people expect brands to post only 1- 2 times per day.

Although at first glance this seems okay from your audience’s perspective, “frequency” is a rather relative term when it comes to an individual business’s social media page. It DEPENDS on what their audience likes and appreciates.

So for that matter, your audience might actually like it even if you post more than 6 times per day.

I follow a page called Purple Clover on Facebook and they post an update almost every hour.

Now this may seem way too much from your business’s standpoint (in fact I wouldn’t resort to posting once every hour on my own Facebook page) but Purple Clover’s posts get tons of engagement and clearly their target audience doesn’t mind their hourly posts.

Now, the important question is, is there such a thing as a “posting frequency sweet spot”? Once again, stats say that it varies between 2 – 5 times per day.

How can you avoid losing followers because of your posting frequency?

  • First, delve into your analytics/insights to figure out the best days and times to post.
  • Then come up with a few different schedules.
  • Finally, test each one out for at least a month to generate enough stats and come up with a comparative study based on performance.

And remember, whatever schedule you finalize on, stick to it so that your audience knows what to expect.

3. Too much clutter in their news feeds

Okay, I’ve got to admit, this one’s really tricky!

Because it depends entirely on an individual follower’s mindset, interest and how much info does he/she perceive as clutter in his/her social feed?

Obviously you cannot stop people from unfollowing you if they just want to clean up their news feeds and you bear the brunt of their decision.

But here are some tips on how you can try and avoid being a victim.

Review your past posts and see which ones struck a chord with your audience. Continue sharing similar types of content to keep your followers focused and interested.

Once again, visual content (images, videos, and infographics) will take precedence over all other types when considering what to share to keep your followers interested.

In fact, close to 50% of the folks surveyed said that they preferred if brands shared visual content on their social pages (photos, videos, and infographics). Less than 7%wanted them to share ebooks and whitepapers.

Here is an example of Grammarly’s Facebook page. Grammarly is a tool that basically helps you write better, by correcting your grammar and English writing skills.

Their Facebook page has 5.4 million likes (as of writing this post), not all of whom use the app/tool, I’m sure! How does an application that simply manages to garner such a huge fan following on their Facebook page?

Pretty simple, by using light-hearted humor in their posts. Just take a look at their Facebook cover photo, you’ll understand what I mean.

4. Offended by the brand’s activities

Okay, so just because your brand/business is on social media doesn’t mean that there are no rules to follow.

Maybe there’s no rule book yet (you know, such as “The Social Media Constitution”) but there is a certain code of conduct that you are expected to follow if you don’t want to be termed as an “offensive” brand.

You might be thinking, “offensive”?

“My business is 100% legit! And all I’m doing is sharing stuff on social media.”

Of course, you are! But WHAT you share and HOW you share it can have a significant impact on determining the nature of offensiveness.

So, what type of activities can be considered “offensive”? The survey doesn’t tell us explicitly but we can make some intelligent guesses and stay away from them to avoid losing precious followers.

Too much self-promotion.

The holy grail of what not to do on social media.

Don’t ONLY talk about yourself, your products, your services, your events (pretty much your “anything”).

Believe me, no one is going to listen or even remotely pay attention! And this so-called “rule” applies to all the social networks out there. Excessive self-promotion,

(Beep, that’s the buzzer by the way).

EQUALS offensive. Stay away from it!

Use of automated messaging.

Yes, automation is a life (and time) saver when it comes to being consistent on social media. I mean can you imagine sitting in front of Twitter all day and updating things in real-time? Who would run your business?

However, here’s the thing about automation – it can turn out to be extremely “offensive” if not used in the right way.

Surely, Progressive knows better! Long story short, they sent out a series of auto-replies (with Flo’s smiling face to add to the disaster) to all the folks who tweeted out to them criticizing their actions in court. (Image source: Adweek).

So what is the right way?

Use automation to schedule your updates but not your interactions. In fact, this also applies to the use of Twitter auto DM’s.

Using humor as a means of criticism

Okay, this one’s really tricky! And if people don’t catch you in the right context it can be a recipe for disastrous offensiveness.

Take Justine Sacco’s case for example, whose racist joke (meant as a satire) to 170 Twitter followers completely spiraled out of control and destroyed her career.

Yes, she wasn’t really a brand but this is a classic example of how social media can ruin your reputation if you don’t keep a check on how you’re using the humor factor.

Poor use of hashtags

Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 people unfollow brands on social media because of poor hashtag usage?

Because it is rather easy to fall prey to a trending hashtag without even knowing its context.

Taking an example from the real world, Entenmann’s learned this the hard way when they used the trending #NotGuilty hashtag in one of their tweets not realizing that they’d joined in a conversation about the verdict in a murder trial.

Bottom line, hashtag responsibly people! Keep ‘em relevant to the topic at hand.

5. Content is irrelevant to the brand

Again this one’s slightly tricky because “relevant” content could mean different things to different people.

My take would be to keep things relevant to your audience.

So for example, I know that my audience likes inspirational quotes, even though its not directly relevant to the content on my blog, I still share at least one every day.

A good place to start would be to review your past posts and see which ones did the best in terms of engagement. You will be able to figure out the relevancy factor by weighing them in.

6. Lack of engagement

39% and 36% of the people who follow brands on Facebook and Twitter respectively think that the brand will most likely engage with them when they post on their social pages.

This means that the act of following/liking is linked to the expectation of engagement from the brand.

I’m not going to get into the details of the importance of engaging with your followers on social here because I’ve already covered that in the very first point.

But in short, here’s the deal. Use your social presence as a medium to interact with your followers or you can kiss them goodbye!

7. Found a competitor’s brand they’d rather follow

very small portion of the people surveyed said that they will unfollow a brand if they come across a competitor’s brand they’d rather follow. Once again, this is a classic case of a person’s personal choice and all you can do to prevent it is to try and be better than your competitors.

Keep a check on what your competitors are up to on their social pages by analyzing your insights/analytics – things they are doing right, what seems to be working for them etc. because you have a similar target audience.

And try to incorporate their best practices on your page to keep your followers glued.

Facebook, for example provides the  “Pages to Watch” feature which enables you to see how your competitors are faring.

You can view their top-performing posts to get a sense of what seems to be working for your common audience base and try and use the same/similar types of content to check if it will strike a chord with your present fans.

So that’s pretty much it folks! Of course, there can be other reasons people might unfollow brands on social, but its always a good practice to keep these in mind.

Over to you

What did you think of this post? What best practices do you follow on your social pages to make sure your audience remains glued to your updates? Share them in the comments below.