Two Times You Should Give Your Audience What It Wants (And One You Shouldn’t)

When you first stop and think about it, following a brand on social media doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

(On that note, you can find Meet Edgar on Twitter right here!)

Seriously, though, why do it? You fast-forward through TV commercials. You click YouTube’s “Skip Ad” button literally the second it pops up. Why volunteer to have branded content show up in your social feeds?

That’s the question BuzzStream and Fractl recently posed to nearly 1000 respondents – and if you want to get more people to follow your brand on social media, you’ll definitely be interested in what the data has to say.

What can you do to make more people want to follow you on social? What can you do to make them unfollow you? And what’s the fatal mistake you might be tempted to make by paying TOO close attention to these stats?

Let’s break this data down into three major lessons.

1. Why people follow brands on social media

First things first. What is it about a brand that makes any given consumer want them showing up in their social feed?

Here’s what the survey found as the top responses:

Why people follow brands on social media

Source: BuzzStream

The number one reason people gave for following a brand on social media is that they like them.

But what does that mean? How do you make your brand more likable?

Likability is predicated on two things: your brand’s practical value and your audience’s emotional connection.

Think of it as a left brain, right brain sort of thing.

always give your audience what it wants

The left brain’s all about the practical value of your brand – it’s where you do all your number-crunching and analytical thinking. [Tweet “Because face it: we like things that bring value to our lives. If a brand creates products or gives you information that you can use, you’re going to form a positive assessment of that brand.”] (And on the other hand, if you’re disappointed by a brand’s value over and over, you probably won’t like them very much.)

The right brain is where creativity and emotions live – and emotions play a huge part in your brand’s likability. This is where your brand’s identity enters the equation. How do you communicate with your audience? What’s your style, your voice? This is especially important if you’re the face of your own brand, like a public speaker, a coach, or an author – it’s the question of who you are. (Actor Vin Diesel turned himself into one of the most popular living celebrities on Facebook by sharing his softer side with fans.)

Nobody can dictate your brand’s identity, but this much is certain: your brand can’t be all things for all people. And that means some people just aren’t going to like you.

(Cue the sad music.)

Instead of trying to make yourself as appealing as possible to as many people as possible, then, create a distinct and consistent voice for your brand. For example, is your brand:

  • Optimistic?
  • Sardonic?
  • Casual?
  • Techno-speaky?
  • For beginners?
  • For experts?

Figure out what defines your brand, and who your audience is, and stick with it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a little bit of everything mixed in there – and that ruins your flavor. The majority of people only follow one to four brands on social, so just showing up to the party isn’t enough – you’ve gotta prove your value and forge that emotional connection if you want to get followers.

And what about keeping those followers?

2. Why people unfollow brands on social media

While something like likability is open to some interpretation, the reasons people give for unfollowing brands on social media are a lot more concrete – and that makes it easier for you to stop followers from jumping ship.

45% of people say the thing most likely to make them unfollow a brand is excessive self-promotion.

Easy enough to avoid – after all, sharing a variety of different update types is the foundation of any good social strategy. If you followed a brand and found that they only ever shared their own promos, you’d bail, too.

More than a third of people say that automation fails will make them unfollow a brand.

Specifically, automated messaging, like this:

Progressive automated social media fail

Source: Adweek

In this example from August 2012, Progressive’s automated responses to tweets were a major contributing factor in a scandal that sent their reputation into a serious nosedive.

Progressive reputation graph

Source: Business Insider

The lesson?

You can automate your social updates, but you should never automate your social interactions. People will notice, and they won’t like what they see. (Besides, interacting with people live is the fun part of social media. Why hand that part over to a robot?)

(Bonus round: Nearly 1 in 5 people say the most likely reason they have for unfollowing a brand on social is poor hashtag usage. Hashtag responsibly, people.)

 

So you know why people follow brands, and you know why they unfollow brands.

But this study also produced some data that could get you into serious trouble on social media if you take it at face value.

If you’re not careful, a study like this can encourage you to make a fatal mistake.

What’s the deal? Do the numbers lie? Let’s take a closer look.

3. How many times you should post on social media per day

You’ve learned how to find the best times to post on social media, but how many times per day do consumers expect you to post?

Why is this the one time you shouldn’t listen to what your audience is saying?

According to this study, the vast majority of consumers think you should only post on social media once or twice per day, per network.

They’re wrong.

Here’s why.

The average consumer might not want to see your brand’s updates more than once or twice a day, but that does not translate to you only updating once or twice a day. Because most of the people in your audience don’t see any given update at all.

[Tweet “Less than half of your Twitter followers log on even once per day. Less than a third of your followers log on more than once per day.”] And when a tweet only has 24 minutes or less to get half the engagement it will ever see, what are the odds that many of your followers are seeing it?

Or look at Facebook, where the number of people who see an update is determined by ever-changing algorithms. As of February 2015, the average organic reach for a Facebook post is down to just 7 percent – not a very large swath of your audience.

So while your audience may think you should only be posting once or twice a day, if you take their advice, you’re hardly going to reach anyone in your audience at all. Those same people are likely to never see your updates, because you’re posting so few, and each one has such a limited audience.

It means that taking statistics like this at face value can be a fatal mistake.

(When you look below the surface, though? That’s where the real lesson is lurking.)

So remember these three things:

If you want to attract more followers on social media, and keep the ones you get, you have to:

  1. Be likable. Prove your value, find your voice, and stay consistent. (Not just on social, either – be consistent across all your communication.)
  2. Share a wide variety of update types, and be authentic. Automate what you can, but don’t try to automate personal connections.
  3. Post regularly, because most people don’t actually see any given update.

They aren’t the only rules you need to keep in mind when you’re marketing on social, but they’re important ones – and if you break them, you’ll find out just how important they really are!