Nearly 4 out of every 5 people have recently unfollowed a brand/person on social media. The reasons they stop following a social media page are just as different as they are. But, most of them turn away when they are no longer interested, or if the page starts putting irrelevant content to the brands. This study concludes that marketers and brand managers need to focus on brand-relevant content, consistency, user-engagement, and transparency to retain their social media followers.
Retaining followers to keep engaging with your brand is as grinding and winding as earning them in the first place. Once they’re caught, losing them is not an option.
Yet, maintaining a social profile is not that seamless; people would always follow and unfollow your page. While many brands might, unintentionally, compile followers hit that "UnFollow" button.
Social media managers would probably be monitoring the statistics related to page following and engagement, but that is inevitable, and painful, part of their jobs. Our study brings insights for such marketers into why the global, diverse audience might unfollow their page, and what they could do to avoid it.
About The Survey
Recently, GoodFirms conducted a survey of 450+ social media users around the world to compile comprehensive research - Social Media Usage Report 2019: User Habits You Need to Know, for brand managers, social media marketers, and businesses to learn the current user habits and social media experiences.
In order to study and get a better understanding of why people unfollow a brand, our research team reached out to a few more social media users from external sources and noted their experiences for the same.
In addition, once the reasons were studied and identified, the team contacted some social media marketing agencies to share their pieces of advice for brands to counter these obstacles.
The Detailed Findings
The participants of GoodFirms' Social Media Usage Survey 2019 were asked if they ever unfollowed brand/people; surprisingly, 85.12% of them did.
The survey goes on further to ask social media users what are the common reasons that prompt them to unfollow a brand. Here are their answers:
Anjana Wickramaratne, CEO of a Sri Lankan digital marketing agency - Inspirenix, feels that people following, and subsequently unfollowing, brands/pages on social media is a very common thing. He says, "but if you are really serious about growing your followers, then you must take action to stop this from happening. Fortunately, there are some areas that businesses can improve on to prevent people from unfollowing their page or brand."
The present research curates the incidents with several social media users that prompted a sense of untrustworthy, and ultimately garner negative engagement for brands. Also, it curates words from esteem marketers for what to avoid while posting for brands on social media, as well as, how to counter a follower churn from their social profiles.
Read the following article to get detailed insights:
# 79.37% of People Unfollow Brands on Social Media That They Were No Longer Interested
Social media users usually lose interest from a page, if the content is repetitive or boring, or sends out an outdated message.
People love when your brand is pro-active on social media, but what turns them off the most is the kind of content you put regularly.
How people lose interest from your brand's social media presence and unfollow the page?
People follow brands on social media for specific reasons. But with time, many brands tend to serve the same information or lose the edge to induce creativity and user-engagement.
Christina Albe followed a few brands on Instagram that attracted her with really nice offers on home goods, mattresses, etc. But with time, she unfollowed those brands, "who made me feel self-conscious or who were serving the same kind of content they had been for years. I was no longer inspired. I don't need more notifications of when they do post because, well, it's just not interested anymore."
Albe, who founded Haus von Albe, feels that she can be interested in one type of brand content only for some time. She retorted on the pages, "thank you for the lifestyle content and new product announcements, but what about a bigger message about products. How do you take that on in a newer way?"
Another respondent, Stacy Caprio told she unfollowed a photography page. The page was offering a photographer's photo services as the main selling point, which was fine by Stacy as it did not use the page aggressively. But Stacy did unfollow the page after a point, "I unfollowed because I realized I didn't like seeing their pictures of random people pop up on my feed as it made it disorganized."
Stacy is a freelance digital marketer and the founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing.
Businesses that lack brand stories on social media, tend to lose followers' interests.
How brands can maintain the user's interest and avoid getting unfollowed?
Most people follow a social media page because they have seen an interesting post, product announcements, or were lead due to astonishing offers; in order to continue the user's interest in the page, brands need to be relevant, and consistent with a dash of entertainment.
Consumers are looking for brands to act like people - with multifaceted interests and opinions - for continued interest and engagement.
Albe's advice for brands is, "take a stand, show your diversity, teach me something, give me a takeaway of each post. Rather than just posting a pretty photo with an 'inspirational' quote - I already get a lot of those from my friends. I don't need it from a brand."
Jeremy Rose, who currently runs CertaHosting - a UK-based service that explores the possibilities of web hosting, emphasis on how brands can try different mood and styles of communications, see results, and decide which ones resonate the best with their audience demographics. He says, "shift to a more relaxed style or use memes to make statements if you want to shift your follower base and increase their number. Or go in the opposite direction, and make more concrete and serious posts."
Social media followers really need to see a person, in the brand, that cares for their needs, and eventually provides value.
# 66.99% of People Stop Following a Page When They Spot Irrelevant Posts from a Brand
Keeping up the relevancy of your brand with target audiences' interests is a tricky matter; what's trickier is to keep up a "relevant" brand image on social media.
How does irrelevant content harm your brand image on social media?
Many branding experts would suggest real-time marketing. And indeed, it is a striking, ingenious way to connect with your followers, or even pull crowds to your page, leveraging their interests in current affairs.
Dane Kolbaba, who runs an Arizona-based pest control company Watchdog Pest Control, started following the Facebook page of a popular food & recipe blog a few years ago, "I think they were the first page I saw that posted short clips of cooking various dishes, with the audio-only being the sound of cooking and/or low, pleasant music. They also post recipes and sell recipe books."
But marketers usually lose control over the brand relevancy of their content, while keeping up with the trends on social media. Most of the time, this arbitrary behavior costs them user engagement, and subsequently brand following.
As so happened with Dane, "Then around the time of the last royal wedding in the UK, they started posting articles of the royal wedding. This went on for some time, extending to other celebrity topics not relating to food, along with cooking/recipe content. I finally unfollowed them as I wasn't interested in seeing such topics in my newsfeed."
Kristin Dyak, digital marketing director of The Cyphers Agency that specializes in branding and advertising, points out the subtlety of being relevant for brands on social media. She says, "The content should always speak for the brand and relate directly to the audience. The more the audience sees themselves as an extension of the brand, and value the information they receive as a follower, the more they'll continue to follow and engage with the content."
How brands can avoid being irrelevant on social media, and a possible follower churn?
For brands, the issue is not with leveraging a varied range of content or even riding different trends. But, what brands need to understand is that while being adaptive and explorative, they need to be consistent with their brand voice.
Kristin explains, "... the most important thing to do to keep them is to keep your brand's voice and message consistent. A slight change in the integrity of your content, even just for a temporary sales campaign, can quickly result in someone unfollowing your page."
As an example, it would have been still relevant if the food & recipe blog had posted about the gourmet dishes served at the royal wedding, and maybe, their recipes too, which was why Dane followed their page in the first place.
Brands need to define, and maintain, their persona on social media through whatever they post.
As a director of an online store ThatShirt.com, Mike Sheety doesn't go too far off on a tangent with their social media posts. His advice to brands on how to decide which topics would resonate with audiences is to stay focused on their stats. As he explains, "Have a look through the interaction you get on the different types of posts you make. Do some produce a better engagement, do others cause a negative outcome? By taking the time to look at the statistics you can avoid posting things that will give you a negative impact instead of a positive one."
# 41.50% of Social Media Users Unfollow a Brand That Posts Too Much, Too Often.
Brands need to keep this in mind - People use social media to follow a great many things and not just your page.
If you post too much, your content might clutter users' news feeds, which would prompt them to unfollow your page.
How do posting too much, too often harm your social media reputation?
Sure, posting too little will not help permeate your audiences; but, posting too much would brand you spammy among social media users.
"I follow, and subsequently un-follow, dozens of them [authors] and they all make the same mistake", said Max Moussa, an author-turned-publisher and founder of 25 Eagles Publishing. "Each one assumes that because their book is important to them, that it must be of the utmost priority for their potential readers as well. It hurts my heart to see them make a new post every day pushing their books when all it will do is result in people perceiving their posts as spam, and thus all their products as low quality."
This is a factual problem for brands, communities, public figures, influencers, and anyone who is trying to build and maintain an audience on their social media page.
Max adds, "Even if you really liked a new person you just met, if he or she was knocking on your door every day for a week, you'd probably tell them to get lost. So why expect a customer to act any differently?"
How brands can be consistent (not frequent!) on social media, and avoid losing followers?
Many studies have advised that posting once or twice a day manage to get more reach, and subsequent interaction for each of the posts. While these are proven numbers from certain brands, there is no solid formula (at least, not that anyone can give you!).
Posting frequency can be really subjective, in terms of your brand narrative, as well as, your audience's interests & demographics. Albeit, brands should build a social media schedule, and stick to it. Followers would eventually know what to expect, and when - this way they can pioneer brand loyalty too.
"Publish quality-content periodically" says Thibaud Clement, "It does not mean posts have to be published every day, but rather at a constant frequency (once a day, thrice a week, etc.), so that the page does not look like it has been abandoned, and instead build up expectations for when upcoming content will appear. A great way to achieve that is to set up a social media calendar."
Clement is the co-founder and CEO of Loomly - an all-in-one tool for teams to collaborate and manage business's social media communications.
Make sure, you spread out your content over time.
"Always make sure that you spread out your content, for example - one post in the morning, and another in the evening.", advises Mikaella King, a social media marketer at an online store Blinds Direct. "This means that your followers will still see your content but won't be overwhelmed all at once."
# 38.59% of People Unfollow a Brand Because of an Offensive Post or Activity
Today, brands have a cosmopolitan fan base on social media, which includes followers from all races, genders, cultures, and sexual orientations - making a sensitive environment.
Brands should be very careful while posting anything on social media, especially the ones people are likely to find offensive.
How does an offensive post by a brand could lead a snowball of unfollowing on social media?
Social media may be an essential tool for building a brand persona, and in a sense, brand following. But it can just as quickly become a liability when something goes wrong.
April Lee, an animal advocate, and blogger at HelpfulHorseHints.com, recently found a negative article about the Wild Horse and Burro Program on social media. The brand that shared the article sells horse supplies, is quite popular, and has around 187K followers.
Lee said, "I have personally placed or facilitated placement of hundreds of wild horses and burros into adoptive homes and happen to know quite a lot about the topic. The post came to my attention because a large number of my Facebook friends had also commented negatively on the post. Instead of admitting that they had made a mistake, after hundreds of negative comments, they simply deleted their controversial post and never addressed it. I just felt they handled the whole thing very poorly for quite a large company in our industry."
Another respondent, Andrew Clark, marketing strategist at Duckpin, found himself fascinated by a brand selling men's shorts on Instagram, mainly because of their use of meme culture and crass humor to be innovative in the realm of digital marketing.
But soon, he came to loathe over the brand because of its discriminatory posts, "I felt like they overdid things and failed to incorporate diversity into their work. Right now, their account gives the impression their products are made for white, cis bro-types."
Brands have to be especially careful while employing humor with their posts; what seems like a simple, witty joke might be offensive for someone else. Subsequently, there could be a big backlash on social media and garner bad public reputation.
How brands can avoid offensive posts and retain their social media followers?
To avoid offending followers, brands have to listen, analyze their existing followers and connect the brand values to them.
Andrew said, "If this company wanted to win me back, I would suggest they diversify their models to better represent men of different backgrounds and body types."
The best practice is to prevent bad posts from getting published in the first place, by implementing a robust social media workflow.
Sometimes, brands do make social media marketing mistake or a bad PR post.
Brands can correct this situation by deleting the post as soon as possible before it reaches more people than it already had; this will minimize the effect. But the best way to handle this type of situation is to apologize.
Brands that met this type of situations and publicly apologized has more social media audience loyalty that brands met with the same situation and did not publicly apologize.
# 37.14% of Users Unfollow a Brand That Lacks Engagement on Social Media
With an open platform, brands have infinite opportunities to engage with their audiences, as well as, to listen to their customers.
Yet, many brands still consider social media profile as a one-way channel to show=off themselves, without any substantial value to their customers.
Why the lack of engagement prompt a social media user to unfollow a brand?
There is a lot of chaos on social media, as every brand is striving for attention from consumers, to show off themselves, their culture, products, and services. But, there would be no point for brands to be on social media if they are not getting any user engagement on their content.
Having said so, there would be no point either, if brands fail to connect with their customers.
One of the respondents shared her recent experience with a bakery shop. Recently, during the last season of Game of Thrones, she was smitten by the photos of cute cakes themed on the show posted on their Instagram page.
She said, "I messaged them inquiring about the price, and how to place an order, as there were no related details on the post. But, even after a day and two follow-up messages, I got no replies from them. At last, I had to take out some time and go down to the shop. While at the shop, I confronted the manager about the issue, who apologized and promised the incident would not happen again." But the inconvenience doesn't stop there. When she posted an Instagram story to thank them for the cake, she got no reply from them.
Social media has emerged as a free-tool for customer support, as well as customer-generated content, and if your brand doesn't realize that yet, they are surely going to lose some followers.
How brands can engage with followers and avoid a possible churn?
Charlene Walters, Branding Expert & Mentor at Own Your Other, suggests that brands can even reduce social media follower churn by interacting regularly with their audience.
"Ensure that your brand is adding value to their lives. This can be achieved by commenting on their followers' posts and being responsive to their comments. Nobody likes a one-sided conversation. It's also helpful to get your followers involved. Give them opportunities to share their content and run contests that they can have fun participating in."
# 13.11% of the Surveyed People Unfollowed Pages That Spread Fake News or False Information
With social media, people have had access to tons of uncredited, unaccounted information coming all the time. And now, consumers are becoming aware of it.
While this applies more to news sites than marketers, people not only unfollow pages that participate in sharing such disinformation but also report to respective social media platforms, which might pull their whole page down.
How fake news and false information can damage your social media credibility?
For brands, it might be tempting to design advertisements or social media posts that attract new followers, engage more, and might even become customers. But this temptation leads many to resort to misleading information, deception, or even out-of-context statements.
Though fake news is hard to perceive, people are now more aware and conscious. Abe Navas, unfollowed a popular tech-news and media network when he came across a faulty product guide the page was promoting on social media.
"This guide was so incredibly bad that you just start to question their entire website. As a tech enthusiast, seeing one hell of a bad guide, error after error, wrong facts, I must say, they don’t have quality control. If they released this, what else would they have released! That’s it, I unfollowed them. They are just bad journalism." said Navas, who is a general manager at Emily’s Maids, Dallas-based house cleaning services.
Just as Navas did, most of the consumers conclude brands untrustworthy, if and when they find even one false story from their page. It ruins your brand's overall credibility, garners you negative reputation, and users divert their attention to somewhere else.
How brands can keep a fake-news free image?
It's essential to ensure brands are particular about all that they post on their social pages.
Brands need to build relationships with credible information sources, which would suit you up with facts and accurate information.
In the house, it's just going to take a couple of minutes to check post copies for any errors, factual mistakes, or concealed ramifications before it goes out. Brands can have special editors to proofread everything and cross-check every information their social media managers send out.
Also, brands need to build relationships with trustworthy media outlets too; ties with whom would aid you to prove your point or defend yourself on social media. This is especially obvious when posting something that sounds absurd, difficult to accept, or unrealistic.
# 12.38% of social media users stop following a brand because of their overly-promotional posts.
From a singular platform, social media bestows the power to connect to tens of thousands of audiences simultaneously, and efficiently. But many brands waste the opportunity by excessively promoting their products, and overwhelming their followers.
How excessive promotions blow your social media followers away?
Brands are eagerly blending social media into their advertising programs in a bid to drive their digital engagement. But, instead of leveraging powerful social media ads, marketers often use their page profiles to aggressively market their products.
People use social media to tend their interests, and with excessive promotions, brands fail to align with the user motivations.
Ronald Humes found himself in a precise situation. He came across an Overlanding page with excellent videos and pictures of outdoor and off-road explorations and elected to follow the page. Humes is a VP of Operations, South-East Region, at Post Modern Marketing.
But after a time "the page became nothing more than a product ambassador site overrun with advertisements. The videos initially showcased interesting locations and trail rides. After more sponsors and gear were obtained by the owner of the page, the videos seemed to be focused on gear demonstrations in parking lots or staged campsites with logos covering any interesting background that might exist." And that prompted Humes to unfollow the page.
If the entire purpose for brands on social media is for product promotions and sales, then people will most likely unfollow you.
How brands can promote products (subtly!), and retain social media followers?
"Brands should remember that people follow them on social media to see their personal side - not to continuously get sold to", quoted Kayla Kelly, marketing manager at PayPro Corporation.
As the page following grows, brands should hold shift the focus on monetizing. Instead, it must be done in a way to preserve the original purpose and direction. Brands need to create posts for both current and potential customers.
It is advisable to follow the Pareto principle: 80% brand awareness posts and 20% brand promotion posts.
Kayla added "keep your posts conversational, give 'back-stage' views of the business or product. Hint at new products to be rolled out. Do 'spotlights' on your employees to keep things personal. Even 'story take-overs' (this is when another person posts stories on your account for a day) can be effective in gaining new followers, as well as, maintaining."
# 10.92% of People Unfollow a Brand That Offers a Low Quality of Real-Life Products or Services.
Amidst the efforts on social media and brand narratives, sometimes brands forsake the quality bar of real products, which eventually proves out to be an all-too-real problem.
How does the poor quality of products decrease brand following on social media?
At the end of the sales funnel, some people are going to buy products or services. And when they do, they are gonna turn away if businesses lack serious efforts for superior products.
Even if it is just one item from a range of brands offering, it could grievously damage their social media image. For a starter, it would bring down their page follows; second, it would garner negative user reviews for products that get easily amplified on social media.
Some social media influencers refrain from endorsing such low-quality products on their platforms too.
"I recently unfollowed a workout supplement brand on Instagram that had actually reached out to partner with me and also sent me some free products", said Instagram fitness influencer Liz Jeneault who serves as VP of Marketing at Faveable.com, a website featuring lifestyle products and pieces of advice for everyone.
"I unfollowed the brand because I wasn't a fan of the products they sent me! I thought they tasted gross (they had a fishy food odor!). I can't imagine promoting products that don't actually taste good and so it felt wrong to me to continue following the brand."
The binary solution to this problem - Do market research, and regularly monitor your product reviews.
How brands can comeback on social media with superior quality products?
Liz also added, "I might follow them again if they were to make some new products and also talk about how they have improved the taste of their products."
Recently, Carlsberg embarked on a similar journey amidst negative reviews over brewing quantity, not quality. Carlsberg U.K.'s VP of marketing was found admitting, "we became one of the cheapest, not the best." Subsequently, the Danish brewer completely reformulated their product which met with large positive ratings. Interestingly, the brand reformulated its social media campaign too.
"Probably the best beer in the world" had been an iconic campaign by Carlsberg for 30 years. But, they introduced their new products on social media, which gave the brand a good, earnest indication of upgraded quality.
The value of brand honesty is much more powerful than brands realize; with a bit of fun on social media, brands can not only reclaim the lost followers but also add brand loyalty to their customer base.
Just because you have influenced a social media user to like and follow your page, doesn't mean they would remain loyal to your brand. While the survey lot is rather small, the trends emerged from the data has indeed provided marketers with some common social media blunders they should avoid.
Essentially, to develop a brand narrative, marketers have to contrast many people; it's virtually impossible to entertain every single follower. Yet, brands could maintain a balanced stance, and always stay true to their social media marketing goal - do good work, then tell everyone else about it. Meanwhile, marketers can always consult a good public relations firm, to support their efforts for brand development on social media.
For businesses seeking for branding services, GoodFirms have verified a list of top branding agencies to help you in your search. GoodFirms hope that these curated experiences and marketing advice would help you keep your unfollow rates low, while your social media image exciting and interesting.