Here’s Why Users Follow (and Unfollow) Brands on Twitter

In short: discounts and MARKETING efforts

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A study released today by Simply Measured found that consumers are “becoming more comfortable” with Big Brands on Twitter.

In fact, those brands saw a huge 105 percent increase in engagement levels in Q4 of 2014. The news that Twitter is working for brands prompts the question: why do people follow and unfollow commercial accounts?

A couple of recent surveys tell the tale.

First, from a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research project covered by eMarketer:

twitter graph

For Millennials, at least, it’s not really about following friends’ recommendations or doing consumer research: it’s about coupons and discounts. We can tell you from personal experience writing social media copy that the same is true for middle-aged aunts: they want those “$1 off” coupons.

We are slightly surprised to see such high numbers for “support the brand” sentiments; that finding should be encouraging for social media teams, though it’s worth noting that few users actually buy things via Twitter.

OK, but why do users unfollowHere’s a January post from LKR Social Media designed to answer that question. Some numbers:

  • 77 percent of users follow at least one brand
  • 67 percent prefer to buy from a brand that they follow
  • 56 percent have unfollowed at least one

The explanation given by most of those un-followers is that a brand’s content is too “boring” or “salesy.”

Translation: everything, or almost everything, shared by said brand is directly self-promotional and immediately identifiable as MARKETING.

The next big reason people unfollow is lack of engagement: a whopping 99 percent of all users expect a brand to respond in some way when they use the old @ button.

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it back in January, depth is more important than scale, meaning direct interaction and targeting is more valuable than the act of racking up X number of followers, most of whom only continue to follow your brand because they’re too lazy to click “unfollow.”

In summary: engagement is more important than ever, people LOVE their discounts, and no one really appreciates a hard sell.