Mark Schaefer wrote a post yesterday about being unfollowed by 100,000 people. He looks at the unfollowing phenomenon that sees people using following/unfollowing to try to grab large numbers–a topic I mentioned in my post on the importance of following on Twitter. But he uses it as a springboard to remind us that people may be unfollowing us for legitimate reasons and how to avoid being unfollowed for the wrong reasons. It’s worth a read.
My thoughts on unfollowing
He sparked this comment from me:
I don’t worry about people unfollowing me. I’m happy if my trend is positive and I’m attracting the type of folks I want to be engaging.
I won’t follow people just because they follow me especially if they have huge numbers of followers/following. That’s almost guaranteed to be a sign of someone who is using following to attract big numbers for the sake of big numbers rather than earning them one relationship at a time. I’m more likely to follow a new follower if they follow a smaller number of people because they are more likely to interact with me.
For many other followers, I’ll wait until they interact with my posts because then I know they are interested in what I am saying and interacting with me.
I’ll unfollow people when I see them frequently but don’t find enough value in their content–especially if they don’t follow me and definitely if they used to follow me but don’t any longer. I’ll also unfollow people who are seldom on Twitter because they are not committed to investing time to experience its relationship/community building benefits–again definitely if they are not following me.
A note of warning: Just because someone isn’t following you doesn’t mean that they unfollowed you. I still regularly find people who I’m sure I’m following that I’m not and people who are sure they’re following me and who aren’t. Either the Twitter gremlins are still at work or we’re still dealing with the bug that had Twitter unfollowing without being told to do so.
You should care about why people unfollow you
I’ll add that I agree that you should care why people unfollow you if you can identify a reason that you can control.
I don’t worry about people unfollowing me because it’s not productive to be overly concerned about something that is a natural, expected part of the Twitter experience. Deciding to follow someone and then for whatever reason unfollowing them is part of the process for identifying who you are most interested in following. I don’t expect to be everyone’s preferred flavour anymore than I expect to follow everyone long term. More recently, I haven’t been too concerned due to the follow/unfollow phenomenon.
But there are cases when unfollowing may be a teachable moment on how to improve our use of Twitter. If it happens enough to be a trend, then it’s worth considering if you’re willing to lose followers or want to change how you use Twitter.
The tricky part is that there’s no good way of getting data on who unfollows you and why. It just takes a click and there’s no feedback unless the person takes the initiative to share it–which seldom happens. But if you’re concerned that your numbers are falling or growing slower than desired, it might be worth trying to get some feedback or doing an audit of how your using Twitter. If you can figure out why people are or might be unfollowing you, it can inform your future use of Twitter.
So while I’m not concerned with my number of followers, if you’ve ever unfollowed one of my Twitter accounts I’d appreciate learning why.