New Study Looks at What Makes People Unfollow Brands on Social

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So what do your customers really want on social media – and what annoys them or turns them off? To find out, Sprout Social recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people to get their thoughts on various aspects of branded social media content. And while the survey pool is relatively small, some compelling trends did emerge from the data, which are worth noting for those looking to maximise their company’s social media presence.

First off, respondents indicated that the most annoying thing brands do on social is still over-promote.


It’s been said many times before, but social media is not a broadcast platform, it’s a conversation medium best suited to two-way interaction, as opposed to blasting out ads. Yes, social platforms have massive reach, but you can’t ignore the ‘social’ element, and you can’t approach it like other media options. Paid ads are a different story, but your social content, on balance, should not be overly promotional. Sprout’s findings once again underline why.

Other annoyances include:

  • Using slang and jargon – Go check out Twitter profiles like Brands Saying Bae for more context on this front – in an effort to get in touch with the ever-elusive ‘Millennial’ market, some are just trying too hard. Choose a communication style that makes sense for both your brand and your audience.
  • Not having any personality on their accounts – If your profile is just re-tweets or auto-generated messages or inspirational quotes with no context, how can you expect people to align with your brand and what your business is about? It’s important to define your brand mission and purpose before building your social media and content strategy.
  • Trying to be funny when they’re not – Similar to using slang and jargon, some brands just try too hard to be the cool kid in class in an effort to gain traction. Experimentation is a must, it’s always worth trying things out. But maybe, at some stage, you have to accept that it’s not working out.
  • Not replying to my message – It’s somewhat surprising that this didn’t feature more prominently, but then again, that likely relates to the consumptive nature of social, that we follow brands and pages we want to see content from, not necessarily those we want to send messages to. But the fact that this is important to a quarter of consumers is still significant, and this is only likely to increase as reliance on social platforms in our interactive process evolves.

These reasons were also reinforced when looking at why people unfollow brands.


Conversely, Sprout also asked consumers why they follow brands on social, with ‘Interested in their product/service’ coming out on top.


People are also following brands to hear about promotions and incentives, while some are also following along simply to be entertained. That, too, is an important consideration, particularly when you’re looking to build your brand presence. Gaining followers is one thing, but connecting with your audience, getting engaged followers, is far more powerful. If you’re able to entertain them and better align them with your brand and offerings, that will significantly increase the chances of that person going on to become a paying customer.

And worth noting too, in the reasons people unfollow, ‘Information not relevant’ was the second biggest issue. It’s important to be entertaining, to provide reasons why people would want to follow your brand, like promotions and incentives. But also, those messages need to be contextually relevant.

Sprout also found that a staggering 75% of respondents had made a purchase because of something they saw on social media.


If you needed further proof as to the value of social media marketing, there it is. With more and more people active on social platforms every day, it’s become a key consideration channel, a key element in the purchase process.

Sprout also found that the majority of people are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media.


The findings basically reinforce the playbook for content marketing – provide your audience with contextually relevant, entertaining content, along with some promotions and special offers, and they’ll be increasingly likely to buy from you. The challenge, of course, lies in community understanding, in ensuring you’re delivering content that is relevant and that helps reinforce your brand. But Sprout’s data shows that if you do the research and are able to become that key source that people follow, there’s a much greater chance of them moving to the next stage of the purchase cycle.

There’s a range of other data points in Sprout’s full report, including industry-specific breakdowns and further insights – it’s worth reading if you get a chance.

Source: Social Media Today

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