Posted December 15, 2010 7:25 pm by with 4 comments

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We know that most people choose to follow a business in order to get deals and coupons, but what makes them “unfollow?”  Last week, Smart Brief on Social Media polled their readers on this very topic and here’s what they had to say:

The majority of the people (44%) said they unfollow because they’re overwhelmed by too many updates. Along a similar line, 36.79% said they unfollow if the postings don’t add any value to their day.

Good information, if only we knew how to quantify it. For example, how many updates is “too many?” Certainly a Tweet an hour qualifies, but what about twice a day? I suspect that the ratio of allowable updates is directly proportionate to the value. If you want to offer me three different coupons in one day, then you’re not over Tweeting. Same if your posts are funny or informative. Where things get tricky is in the use of random posts. We’ve seen evidence that random works, particularly on Facebook. But does that mean that six random questions a day is better than one? I doubt it.

Let’s look at a couple of more stats from the poll.

Less than 10% of the people polled said they would unfollow someone who only talked about himself or acted irresponsibly. 5% packed their bags if the business wasn’t open to feedback and a measly 3.30% said they’d leave if there was no activity for weeks at a time. Clearly, under-communicating isn’t an issue.

What I wonder about is the psychology of “unfollowing.” Think about it. Clicking to disengage yourself from another person is an overt act, much more than following. It implies that you’re unhappy with the other person and most of us aren’t in to negative feedback. Given that, I’d say that for every unhappy person who actually clicks “unfollow” there are probably a dozen more who are sticking around to be polite. (Yes, there are manners in social media.) This means that you should be aware of your unfollows. Don’t just look at the number of people who joined up this week. Look at how many left. If a large number left in the same day, you can probably track it back to a particular spate of activity. Too much? Too random? Did you insult someone by accident?

Is this a lot more thought than you wanted to put in to your social media accounts? If so, stop Tweeting. Don’t waste your time tossing seeds into the wind. Social media marketing needs to be taken as seriously as any other aspect of your business because it has the power to bring you new customers but it also has the power to send them running to your competition, instead.

How many people unfollowed you this week?

  • How to quantify when there is too much posting from brands ? How do you quantify when to speak and when to listen when you’re talking to people in a group ? It’s the same thing that’s why you need someone who has good communications skills especially someone who knows how to listen

    • Cynthia Boris

      Respectfully, I don’t agree. Very few people who follow a brand will actually interact with the brand. So if you’re waiting for a comment response from customers before you Tweet again, it’s going to be mighty quiet online.

  • That’s for the hat tip, Cynthia. You’re not the first person to ask us “how many updates is too many?” after reading these poll results. Maybe we’ll make that a future poll question!

  • This is definitely true.

    I can say that I have unfollowed people who have posted too many tweets in a day. It’s certainly all about finding that balance. Testing the waters as we speak to see what has the best results.

    I guess only time will tell.