Facebook has grown to over 500 million users. This means for every 13 people in the world, 1 of them would have an account. Researches have always studied how these relationships form and how we network with each other, however little was known on how these relationships end. Christopher Sibona, from the University of Colorado Denver Business School, set out on a study surveying 1500 Facebook users to find out more about the end of these relationships. “Researchers spend a lot of time examining how people form friendships online but little is known on how those relationships end,” Said Christopher.
Sibona’s research established that the number one reason that Facebook users unfriend someone is frequent, unimportant posts. “The 100th post about your favorite band is no longer interesting,” said Christopher.
The second reason that users unfriended Facebook friends was polarizing topics such as religion and politics. “They say not to talk about religion or politics at office parties and the same thing is true online,” he said.
The third reason for unfriending was the posting of inappropriate posts, such as crude or racists comments.
Christopher’s study showed that 57 percent of those surveyed unfriended someone for online reasons, while only 26.9 percent did so for offline issues.
Christopher went on to say, “With businesses embracing Facebook as a marketing and customer relationship tool, this will hopefully create new research that further examines how social networks enhance decision making and outcomes.”
How This Study Applies to Small Business and Social Marketing
You may be asking how this study relates to small business marketing and social marketing. This study shows exactly what internet surfers do not want to hear their friends and more importantly businesses talk about.
Let’s examine the top reason for unfriending on Facebook, frequent and unimportant posts. This applies to a business that has a Social Network page setup. Your fans, friends, follows, etc. do not want to hear about your trip to the store or that you had fun with your friends last night. These people want to hear important things about your business and about your specials you have going on.
The second reason that Christopher’s study showed for unfriending was bringing your views on religion or politics into your updates. This is often a mistake I see many small businesses making. I understand you want to support your candidate or your religious views however all it takes is one person who does not agree with you to be upset by it. Should you upset your social network followers, and they end their relationship with your business online, it will be harder to get promotional material to them. A good example is last election between McCain and Obama. McCain had 46% of the votes and Obama had 53%. Should you have used your social network page to support one or the other, you looking at either 46% or 53% of nation not happy with your endorsement which could lead to a loss in those customers. Keep your views amongst friends, do not bring them into your business.
The third reason for unfriending on Facebook is a given. It is unprofessional for your business to ever post crude or racist comments. I do not believe I need to explain this one any further.
This study on the top reasons for Facebook unfriending is something that all small businesses should be aware of. It relates heavily to social media marketing however also should be looked at for all your marketing efforts. Do not let careless updates cause you to loose those hard earned fans, friends and followers. You worked hard to get them, you want to keep them.