What an Unfollow Means for Marketing

In Marketing, Social Media by Kristen Dugan

Today’s businesses and organizations are maximizing social media to promote their missions and products to target populations. With social media offering the incredible advantage of being a platform used by a vast majority of people (regardless of age, race, gender or any other specific demographics), a business is able to reach virtually any type of person. However, the benefit of social media does not come without challenges. While it is easy to reach your audience through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and many other social media platforms, it is just as easy for your audience to unfollow an account.

Businesses rely on social media to advertise just as much as the traditional mail/email promotions. Except now, a social media user can simply tap “unfollow” rather than go through the lengthier process of unsubscribing to mail or email.


Surveys, research and focus groups are useful tools to understand who continues to follow social media versus who is unfollowing. However, there are several instances when an unfollow is simply impersonal. These are a few of the reasons why a consumer may hit unfollow, even with the savvy tried and tested marketing tools being implemented into social media accounts.

You are targeting everyone

How convenient that a 7-year-old and 77-year-old are using the same platform of social media to see what their peers are up to and also view advertisements! It is a daunting task to create promotional ads that appeal to everyone, even though everyone is on Facebook. When a consumer unfollows you on social media, it more than likely is not a personal jab at your marketing strategies. In reality, people are going to have different interests and to try to capture all interests in one theme of advertisements is not a practical goal. Use the research on who is continuing to follow versus whom no longer wants to see your posts to refine and improve your target audience. The unfollows are providing you with key research that can help guide what type of content should be displayed on several social media platforms.

You already reached your goal

Let’s say a consumer is in the market to buy the trendiest new pair of shoes that your company is selling. For months, said consumer followed your social media accounts, admiring the product you promoted. Finally, the consumer is able to purchase the shoes. Why would the consumer continue to fond over the shoes on social media when she has a tangible pair? If someone unfollows your social media account for a specific product, it may not mean the product is poorly advertised and looked down upon by consumers, but rather that consumers have already invested in the product. If you see this trend on your accounts, it may be a sign you reached your goal with one product by advertising on social media, and it is now time to move onto the next great product that will attract a new group of consumers or bring back the consumers who previously enjoyed your posts on a past product.


Instagram can’t always provide instant gratification

More often than not, if a consumer is following your business account on social media, it is because they are very interested in purchasing your product. Simple, right? As much as social media is used by people for the purpose of communication and admiration, if your product is not obtainable by the consumer, don’t be surprised if you receive an unfollow. Today’s social media users are seeking instant gratification more than ever. While seeing an amazing product on social media can provide that instant gratification temporarily, the gratification is simply coming from content off of a screen. As much as today’s world is very screen-oriented, the beloved idea of a tangible product still appeals to most consumers. If someone is unable to receive what you are promoting on social media, some may unfollow because there is limited interest in seeing something that is unobtainable. It does not mean your marketing strategies are not engaging or beautifully structured; it simply means you are advertising to a person who cannot realistically engage with the actual product.

The number of likes, re-posts, and followers a company or organization has on their multiple social media platforms is important. It is natural to create goals that aim to increase numbers and attract more people to your business. However, if you notice trends of unfollows, it is important to evaluate all factors of the unfollows before rebranding a product or changing the mission and values of the company. The most well-crafted social media advertisements and promotions will receive an unfollow. Consumers are constantly changing what they are seeking just as constantly products are evolving. Study how consumer interests are changing and how your products are progressing, and if those changes are parallel, your followers should increase. However, if the changes are going in different directions, do not take it personally, it is okay to receive an unfollow.

About the Author

Kristen Dugan

Kristen Dugan is a public relations student at the University of Florida. She is interested in international communications and working abroad in the PR field.