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Is Your Social Media Marketing Scaring Customers Away?

Rieva Lesonsky
social media marketing

Ghouls, ghosts and goblins aren’t the only things scaring your customers this Halloween. A study of more than 1,000 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users says your social media marketing could be frightening customers away, too.

The survey asked social media users why they follow and unfollow brands on social media. Here’s what they found and the takeaway for your social media marketing.

A whopping 86 percent of social media users choose to follow brands on social—and they’re not just in it for the promotions. About three-fourths say they start following brands simply because they’re interested in their products or services. However…

  1. They do care about deals. About six in 10 (58 percent) say promotions motivate them to follow brands, and three-fourths of respondents have bought something because of a brand’s posts on social media. That takes repetition, though: Consumers need to see your message on social media an average of two to four times before they buy.

Takeaway: Use repetition, but don’t post the exact same promotion over and over. Make subtle changes to your text and images while conveying the same message.

2. They want to be entertained. More than half (51 percent) of people in the survey follow brands because they’re entertaining. (One-third say they’ve unfollowed brands for “a lack of personality.”) However, it’s easy to go too far overboard. Nearly 40 percent unfollow brands that use too much slang and jargon; 32 percent have unfollowed a company for using forced humor.

Takeaway: Create an authentic voice that makes sense for your brand. An accounting firm shouldn’t be posting cat videos or calling followers “bae,” for example; an ecommerce website selling juniors’ clothing can have more fun with its image.

3. They want to connect. One-fourth of customers follow companies on social media in order to start a two-way dialogue. However, most businesses fall far short of their expectations. The study found just one in 10 social media messages to a company actually gets a response. No wonder nearly 25 percent of consumers have unfollowed a brand for not responding to their messages.

Takeaway: Be engaged on social media—or your customers won’t be. Even if you aren’t explicitly using your social media accounts for customer service, keep an eye out for questions, complaints or compliments, and respond to them quickly.

4. They don’t want to be bombarded. The single most annoying thing businesses can do on social media is post too much promotional content, respondents say: 46 percent of respondents have unfollowed brands for this reason. Posting too much content, period, is also a problem: Nearly 35 percent of respondents have unfollowed a brand for tweeting too much. However, it’s also important to maintain a steady presence on social media – nearly two in 10 people have unfollowed a brand that was “too quiet.”

Takeaway: Create a stable social media presence with a steady pace of posts. You probably need to focus on just one or two social channels to do this—and that’s perfectly fine. B2B companies should start with LinkedIn, while B2C companies should start with Facebook.

5. They want content relevant to them. Forty-one percent of respondents have unfollowed a brand due to irrelevant content. When you focus too much on “hard selling,” this can easily happen.

Takeaway: Know what your customers want (listening to them on social media is one way to find out) and give them more of it. Monitoring your social media analytics will show you whether customers prefer useful posts, funny posts or something else altogether.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.