I lose one Instagram follower for every two new ones that I gain. The numbers are even more bleak on Twitter as I continue to refine my message and focus on what I want to communicate through my social channels. At this very moment I’m on the side of the road with a broken down car, and I received a call from a consulting client that is concerned about the follower drop off on some of their social profiles, even thought the long-term trend is upward. This person started out with 30 Instagram followers, and 90 days later has over 3000. They are concerned about getting a message across that is too bold and two dynamic. They think if they tell themselves down they will be able to please more people and have less drop off. NOPE! WRONG.

People spend more time on social media than any other internet activity; an average of 37 minutes to be exact.

112315_Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.48.02 PM

“Social media isn’t going anywhere and businesses, small and large, are now recognizing their online presence is an essential part of their marketing strategy.”Mikal E. Belicove, Entrepreneur

Eight of ten small to medium-sized businesses are using social media to drive growth, increase brand exposure, increase web traffic, and gain market insights. Forty-six percent of web users actually look at social media before making purchases.

But as more and more businesses are using social media, they become worried when people unfollow and unlike. Some are concerned about getting a message across that is too bold and too dynamic. They think if they tone themselves down they will be able to please more people and have less drop off. This is not technically true. By understanding why people unfollow and unlike we can change how we appear on social media and keep our valuable followers. The Entrepreneur mentions eight mistakes that businesses make on social media to turn away followers.

Why People Unfollow and Unlike

SELLING CONSTANTLY A social media pet peeve for many is when they are bombarded with too many marketing messages. 54% of customers unsubscribed when receiving too many marketing emails. 41% of Twitter users unfollow when their tweet stream becomes too crowded with marketing posts. “Social media is a conversation, and no one wants to talk to a salesman.” Brian Paldin, CEO of The Razzi Group Marketing messages should be kept to a minimum. POSTING TOO MUCH Don’t post the same type of message multiple times a day, and don’t post something for the sake of posting. As we have all been customers, we know that over posting can be very annoying. A good rule of thumb is to post relevant content once or twice a day. 39% of Twitter users unfollow companies because they post too frequently. SHARING EXCESSIVELY Oversharing shows that businesses lack originality. 52% Twitter users unfollow after repetitive and boring tweets. “People don’t want to see a business oversharing those kinds of viral stories because they’re going to see that content from their friends,” says Lysa Miller, Owner, Ladybugz Interactive Agency 112315_typing_beresponsive copy STARVING OF ORIGINAL CONTENT One of the reasons a customer is on a business’s social media page is to learn what it’s all about. If all they see is other people’s content, than they cannot achieve their purpose. A businesses main focus should be to produce original content. A good idea is to share other’s info once every two days or less. 38% of Facebook users say that marketers aren’t keeping their information fresh and new. NO STRATEGY One helpful suggestion on Instagram says to someone struggling keeping followers: One thing that could help you build a cohesive following would be getting much more in focus with your message.” –Sean Burrows Posts should be planned in advance, even on a calendar. We needs to discover, possibly through surveys, what the customer needs and want, not only what we think they need or want. With every post we ask ourselves “How is this going to help my customers stay loyal to my business?” DISINGENUOUS TAGGING There are people and companies that tag people in posts they aren’t associated with them. While this creates visibility, it irritates even more people. DISCONNECTED WITH FOLLOWERS “If you’re looking to get your customers to continue to follow you, you need to pay attention to what they’re doing…” Brian Paldin People unfollow and unlike because they are not engaged, the information isn’t relative to them, and to make it worse, it’s boring. There are articles all over the internet encouraging people to unfollow anything that doesn’t engage them or relate. We don’t want our businesses to fit into these categories. A helpful suggestion is to follow the people following us so we can reach out to them and target their needs. REPOSTING AND RETWEETING The same message over and over again is annoying. Forty-four percent of Facebook users unlike for excessive posting.

Why People Follow and Like

Now that we know why people are unfollowing so that we can avoid those mistakes, we now need to analyze why people do follow and do like so that we can increase our number of followers.

People become subscribers, fans, and followers on social media for the same reason they enter into a romantic relationship: attraction. The five attractions web users look for are:

  • Promotions and discounts,
  • The latest product information,
  • Customer service,
  • Entertaining content, and
  • The ability to offer feedback.

27% of Facebook and Twitter users initially liked or followed to get an offer or deal. 67% Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter. People are comfortable to interact with brands through Twitter. We can put out these types of posts.


Image Source

But there are some other principles that can increase followers and likes. Forbes suggest to “surround yourself with a network of people that value your brand and expertise, so that you can become an influencer among them.” Share consistently and frequently over a long period of time, while avoiding the mistake above. Provide education and information to show that you are an authority on a subject. This increases retweets and shares. Inspiring quotes makes a brand feel less commercial. Offering deals helps people feel exclusive and more likely to continue being a follower. Post what your audience really wants.

Belle Beth Cooper shares seven powerful statistics that can change the way we look at posting, to get more of those likes, shares, and comments.

  1. Photos get 39% more interaction. They get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs. Post more pictures.
  2. Shorter posts receive more engagement. Posts below 250 characters get 60% more engagement while posts below 80 characters get 66% more.
  3. Posts with emoticons increase comments by 33%. Emoticons are not just for teenagers anymore!
  4. Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursday and Friday than on any other day of the week. Buddymedia supposes this because “the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook.” (Fast Company)
  5. Questions in posts, especially those that use words such as ‘should’, ‘would’, ‘which’, and ‘who,’ attract 100% more comments.
  6. People love contests, as noted above, and 35% of Facebook fans say they like pages just to participate in them. A simple contest with “caption this photo” can bring 5.5 time more comments than ordinary posts. Contest words, such as ‘winner’, ‘win’, ‘contest’, ‘enter’, and ‘promotion’, attracts the attention of users.
  7. 42% of fans like pages to get coupons, discounts, sweepstakes, and giveaways. Something to keep in mind.

A great example of using social media positively is Taco Bell in late October 2014. When they launched their new mobile payment and ordering app, to increase awareness of it, “the company ‘blacked out’ its Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr pages with a post that promoted the hashtag #onlyintheapp.” Twenty-four hours later, seventy five percent of their stores processed a mobile order. This was a social media campaign marked “success.”

“If you stay traditional, you’ll never be unique. Make the audience a part of the experience, and in turn they’ll contribute to the viral nature of your campaign.” Francesco Gallo, Social Media Community Manager, AppDynamics

So people follow and unfollow, like and unlike, but like a romantic relationship, it all comes down to sincerely caring. Customers want interesting content that is individual to them. They want businesses to honor and respect their permissions.  Don’t overdo emails. Real love is about “not talking about yourself too much.” Don’t take the leaving personally. It’s not about large numbers alone, it’s about the engagement of each member you have. That is where the real value lies.

See the Instagram post and conversation that sparked this topic.