We Unlike You Because….

16th Feb, 2011

As part of my master’s thesis a couple of years ago I conducted research into why people unlike brands on Facebook. The most common reasons given were receiving too many messages from brands (ie. spam), and a second reason I have never seen in other studies since – a brands offline activity affecting how people feel about the brand. This varied from finding out a company was conducting unethical activities such as testing on animals, to disliking new more aggressive marketing tactics of a brand.

Whats clear from most research conducted into Facebook is that too many, sales orientated messages will get you unliked. Fans have been able to unlike or hide you from the newsfeed for sometime now, meaning one message too many and you can be sent to update purgatory forever. If a brand offends on Facebook, how would this affect the relationship between the person and the brand? One question I always wanted answered was how likely is the person to un-hide or re-like the brand at a later stage? I don’t have an answer for that, but it’s worth bearing in mind next time your about to hit ‘share’.

Recently this report, The Social Break Up, came out from ExactTarget and CoTweet. It contains some interesting, if not entirely unsurprising statistics. For example, the key reasons to unlike a brand on Facebook are;


A lot of these are just common sense. Although the reasons do underline the importance of content, its tone, frequency and value to the customer. All of these factors will differ in importance depending on the brand and on what the fan expects from the page. So a balance needs to be struck.

91% of People have Unsubscribed from E-mail Lists

91% of people surveyed have unsubscribed from a company’s email list, this dips to 81% who have unsubscribed or hidden a company on Facebook and 41% who have unfollowed on Twitter. I don’t think the email and Facebook figures are necessarily high, personally speaking I find myself unsubscribing from one and moving onto another brand or company. I don’t want less information, I just want better information. The Twitter figure maybe so low because tweets are posted at such high volumes that a more frequent stream is acceptable from brands. I have a feeling the reasons why people unfollow on Twitter may slightly differ to Facebook. For example I would suggest the ‘posts were too promotional’ reason, which lies in joint 5th, would be closer to the top of reasons to unfollow on Twitter.

The Lesson for Marketers

It’s an age old online marketing lesson, don’t annoy people. The study does point out that people are becoming more cautious about giving their email addresses to companies (77% of respondents) and following companies on Facebook (71%).

These figures aren’t really surprising. Perhaps in the early days of Facebook becoming a fan of brands was something new and exciting. Like all marketing it eventually gets cluttered, people get sceptical, more media savvy and choose to dis-engage from the communication. If I can cast my mind back to the thesis research into this area of marketing goes back to the 1980’s, so it’s not new or only afflicts the world of online marketing (do you remember all those billboards you passed on the way to work today?).

The holy grail of course is finding those consumers who will stay liking you on Facebook, but that part is the hard work the brand must to do keep people interested. You must share relevant information, posts that people will like, tweets that do help. You may throw in the occasional sales pitch but make it funny, timely or as part of a larger event such as a launch to distract from the hard sales patter of it.

Your fans may just like you for it.