Why Fans Stop Liking & Following You on Facebook & Twitter

Filed in Featured, MY BEST POSTS, Social Media by Matt McGee on March 7, 2011 21 Comments

broken-heartEver wonder if you’re boring your followers to tears on Twitter? Or wonder if your Facebook fans think you’ve become just a bit too spammy? Those are questions any business owner that’s active in social media should be asking. It’s hard enough to get customers to like/follow you, but once they do you also have to make sure you’re keeping them happy and in the fold. A recent study might help — it asked people why they stop following companies on Facebook and Twitter; i.e., what causes the fan to break-up with the business?

In both cases — Twitter and Facebook — the top three reasons that fans stop following businesses were the same. But, and this is pretty interesting, the order was reversed. On Facebook, the top three reasons people “unlike” companies were, in order:

  1. The company posted too frequently
  2. My wall was becoming too crowded with marketing posts and I needed to get rid of some of them
  3. The content became repetitive or boring over time

Here’s the full chart from ExactTarget’s Subscribers, Fans, and Followers report:


ExactTarget asked the same question to Twitter users that follow companies. And the top three reasons were the same, but Nos. 1 and 3 were flipped. Have a look at this:


What the Data Means

I think there are several things that need to be understood here:

1. Twitter users and Facebook users are different.
Sure, the top three reasons are the same, but it’s important to note that Twitter users were far more annoyed by repetition than Facebook users — 52% to 38%. They have different expectations than Facebook users do.

2. Facebook’s filtering algorithm may impact marketing efforts.
One reason that Facebook users aren’t bothered by repetition as much might be that they’re not seeing all of your updates and content. Facebook filters the content that appears in news feeds and your updates may not appear to fans that rarely interact with you in any way. You could be posting the same thing every day and many fans wouldn’t notice. (That’s not an excuse to spam Facebook; quite the contrary. In fact, you’ll need to focus on quality, not spam, to get your content seen by more fans.)

3. One strategy does not fit all.
Although the responses from Facebook and Twitter users are generally pretty similar down the list, the flip-flop in the top three answers suggests that smart marketing involves using at least slightly different strategies on the two sites. Twitter users don’t seem to be bothered as much by frequent posts … as long as they’re not repetitive/boring. On the other hand, Facebook users are a little more sensitive to seeing too many posts.

4. There’s not one dominant reason fans stop following.
With the exception of 52% of Twitter users saying “boring/repetitive content,” no single reason was cited by more than 50% of social media users as a reason for “breaking up” with a business. The takeaway on this point is simple: You can’t please all the people all the time. Understand that, no matter what you do, some fans/followers will have a change of heart. Let them go. Focus on the ones you still have.

These charts come from the same study that I previously wrote about in Why We Like & Follow Businesses Online. Visit ExactTarget for more info about the full Subscribers, Fans, and Followers report.

(image via Shutterstock.com)

Comments (21)

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  1. Cindy Lavoie says:

    I think the Facebook results serve as a reminder that Facebook is still primarily a channel for friends & family to share news & updates. If someone ‘likes’ your business on Facebook, you need to respect that you are showing up in the stream of their personal conversations. Frequent posts by a business can be obnoxious. Occasional announcements of specials, discounts, etc. can be valuable & appreciated.

  2. Gina says:

    Great Post Matt! I’m curious to know how many posts were considered too many on facebook, any idea?

  3. Vlad Rascanu says:

    I’ve been repeating myself over and over again that I don’t understand why all these companies are jumping on the Social Media bandwagon without having a clue what they’re doing. You should only be using Social Media as a customer service tool, as a branding exercise, to get people’s feedback on certain topics, to survey people, etc. Never try and sell on social media cuz that’s not cool, that’ll create more enemies than friends.

  4. Sam Crocker says:

    Great post – would be very interested to see some of this analysis to individuals. I suspect a lot of it is the same but wonder if follow/unfollow behaviour differs significantly for individuals.

    Do you have any data on this by any chance? Would be very cool to see a comparison as a follow-up.

  5. Great reminder of how to stay focused on helping people in the information we share rather than just send out promotional offers. Thanks for highlight this research.

  6. Johnny says:

    Thanks for the statistics Matt, I had no idea the numbers were so high. I once quizzed my daughter and a few of her friends about ads and receiving emails via Facebook. They all felt that Facebook was for socializing and considered it an annoyance and intrusion into their social lives. They all agreed that Facebook was for socializing and not a place to be sold or harass.

  7. Julie says:

    Very insightful infographic identifying the differences between audience reactions to perceived social media spam, thanks.

    I certainly get annoyed with too much posting/too much promotional speak!

  8. Craig says:

    Thanks for the insight. I’ve just started a Facebook page and Twitter account to try to boost my small business both in the marketplace and in the search ratings. This info came at the right time.

  9. Iain says:

    Superb post. The difference between the 2 pretty much marries up to how I feel about them. Twitter definitely being the more business oriented application. Facebook’s more like just a place that someone could contact you or recommend you to their friends.

    I think a lot of people get thousands of followers, forget that they’re not really very targeted and wonder why they have a low conversion rate for their marketing efforts.

    The salient point for me is that it definitely goes to show that you can’t be all things to all people all of the time.

    • Matt McGee says:

      To me, Twitter can be anything you make of it — business, personal, news, whatever. But Facebook is most definitely more personal because of the way friend requests are handled (not automatically), the photo album-type features, and so forth.

  10. I agree with everything Matt said. It is a brialliantly written article.

    Nothing beats a very well written ad, a good television spot or radio ad. The problem is no one is being creative these days.

    The idea of blasting us through social media isn’t going to get a better or bigger response. It is annoying like a telemarketer. Social media is a place to hang out with your friends and get away from the bombardment. The sad thing is that Facebook has all of our data and will be willing to sell it when the time comes.

  11. You would be surprised how often my clients ask about unlikes when they see their numbers going do. Most want to just throw more content at the problem, when in most cases it is the quantity AND quality of the content. For example, plastic surgery fan pages are notoriously hard to not only generate likes for but keep those people liking you. There is only so many times people can see “BOTOX UNITZ ZOMG” or “You are ugly, we can help”. Actually if more plastic surgeons said “You are ugly, we can help” I am sure those with low self-esteem would be positively throwing themselves at free consultations for surgery.

    Anywho, FB content does not always have to be “on topic”. This is why news station fan pages do so well. They offer a variety of different news topics, some of which have zero to do with local news. They are just trying to get people interested, reading, and ultimately interacting.

    Small business should really stop paying these so social media strategists teach them and instead take notes from their local news station. If people see you as a source of interesting content on FB (regardless of what you are actually trying to sale to them), they will start to see you not only as fan page but as THE business to go to when they need your services.

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