Building an audience on social media isn't easy, but keeping one around is even harder. On Twitter, where the posts are short and the interactions are fleeting, this is even more of a challenge. Unfollowing is as simple as clicking a button, and without warning, you may find yourself shedding followers for an action you didn't know you committed -- or worse, something you should have done but omitted.
Fortunately, while there are some random departures due to mood swings or accidental actions, most follower departures are clearly motivated and can be understood. That means they can be prevented. If you're trying to build and maintain the biggest, healthiest follower base on Twitter, watch out for these 10 reasons someone might leave your brand:
1. You don't post often enough. There's no simple rule for this, but Twitter is a fast, demanding platform -- if you don't post enough material, people will abandon you in favor of someone else. Unless you're just starting out, you should be posting more than once a day -- at least a few times a day, especially if you have a dedicated audience. This will keep your followers at least marginally interested in your brand.
2. You post too often. Of course, it's also possible to get stuck in the other extreme. People want a steady pace of updates, trickling into their newsfeeds. It's good to offer several updates a day, but if you bombard your followers with constant messages, they'll start to tune you out. Unless you're responding to inquiries, avoid posting more than what your users can handle viewing -- and use your instincts for this one.
3. You only post ads or sales. Yes, Twitter can be an effective tool to generate leads and sales, but that isn't its only purpose. If you only post about sales or post ads, people will quickly learn that you're only in it for a profit, and they'll learn to distrust you. You need to offer your users something valuable -- for free -- and socialize with them if you want them to stick around.
4. Your format never changes. It's good to fall into a rhythm on Twitter -- at least to a point. If all your posts look the same, people will stop responding to them, and they'll eventually leave. For example, it's good to post your new articles as they're published, but if your entire newsfeed is just a list of headlines, it can be off-putting.
5. You have no unique voice. You're saying good things, but how are you saying them? If you don't have a unique brand voice, you'll have no hook for your audience. People don't go on Twitter to read cold, logical updates -- they want to see your personality. Show off your personality with a tone, an attitude, or a sense of humor that is yours and yours alone.
6. You never respond. When people reach out to you, it's because they crave an interaction. That's the reason it's called "social" media in the first place. If you're in the habit of ignoring or neglecting your users, they'll grow resentful and eventually leave. Answer any questions, thank your users for compliments and feedback, and do what you can to show your users they really matter to you.
7. You're boring. You might vary your posts, respond frequently, and post at just the right regularity, but does what you're saying really matter? Make sure your messaging is targeted directly to your specific audience -- not just a general audience -- and that you're posting valuable, entertaining, informative content on a regular basis. Surprise people; give them things they've never seen before.
8. Someone else does what you do, but better. There's no reason to follow two nearly identical accounts. Keep tabs on your competition and see what they're doing. If they happen to start posting in a style similar to yours (but are doing a better job of it), they could easily poach your followers -- be proactive and remedy this situation by either improving your own approach or finding a unique angle that your competitors can't touch.
9. Your posting quality has declined. Unfortunately, it's easy for your posting quality to decline as you lose enthusiasm, run low on ideas, and start recycling old messages. This happens even to heavily invested brands and highly experienced social managers. The best way to stay ahead of this decline is to continually invest in new strategies and audit your campaign regularly to discover and address any points of weakness.
10. They weren't into you in the first place. It's also possible that your followers have left because they weren't that invested in your brand in the first place. It's hard to avoid this one entirely, since you don't have full control over who does and doesn't follow you, but you can mitigate this effect by only targeting audiences relevant to your brand, and attracting followers only through organic tactics.
The "unfollow" can be hard to take, but try not to worry too much about a stray follower here or there. People leave for all kinds of reasons, and no matter how hard you try, you won't be able to prevent all of them. Instead, learn the most common reasons why followers leave brands, steel yourself against those possibilities, and commit yourself to producing the best content possible for your audience. The rest will take care of itself.