So you finally did it. You’ve signed up for your very own social media account. At first, you’re a little nervous, “Do I really want to put myself and my art out there like this?!” Despite any better judgment, you go for it anyway. After your first few posts, your follower count increases slowly, starting with friends and family. Then one day, it happens. You begin to get people following you who are COMPLETE STRANGERS!
“YAY!!! This is amazing!” Your brain gets a little serotonin hit with every notification that comes in that you have a new follower. “Social media is glorious! People like me! They REALLY like me!” Then the other thing happens. After a day or two or even a few hours in some case, you notice your numbers going down and that you are LOSING followers. *GASP!* “How can this be?? What did I do? Was it something I said?” Sometimes, yes, it was something you did or said. But most of the time, it’s not anything really to do with you at all.
This can be a hard concept to wrap your head around especially when you’ve come to the realization that your self-esteem may or may not have been slightly affected more than you thought or wanted by your follower count. (Don’t deny it.) To understand this, it’s important to understand why people unfollow and some of the common reasons that are not as personal as you are perceiving it.
When it’s not you, it’s them
1. They’re Playing the “Follow-Unfollow” Game.
If you’ve read my article about social media etiquette you probably already know my feelings on this topic. The general premise is that people who are trying to build their follower account, follow you and then unfollow you after a period of time if you haven’t followed them back.
A lot of times they are using a third-party app that will automate this action after a set period of time. I’m really not a fan of doing this. While it works for some people, generally speaking, I don’t believe that anyone owes you a follow-back just because you followed them. This is an extremely common reason why people follow and then unfollow.
2. They’re Playing the “Follow-Engage-Unfollow” Game.
In this scenario, they followed you just to get your attention to look at their account but unfollow you even if you DO follow them back. This is similar to the first point except, in my opinion, more of an inconsiderate move. Essentially what happens, in this case, is that this person might like a bunch of your posts, comment, and engage with you. You decided you want to follow this person back either out of making a new friend or because you liked their content. Shortly after you do they unfollow you. This one tends to leave you scratching your head a little, but it’s unfortunately all too common.
3. People Whose Accounts Are Removed or Deleted
Suspended accounts in violation of terms or service, fake accounts or perhaps inactive ones that have been deleted, will also appear as a lost follower. This obviously has nothing to do with you and is all about whatever is happening on the other end.
4. They’re Just Not That Into You Anymore
For some, their interests have changed or they don’t like the content you are posting anymore. Again this isn’t necessarily anything to do with you personally. Maybe they have decided to keep their feed only friends and family. People’s preferences and tastes change and that’s not anything you can control or should blame yourself for.
If you’ve decided to take your art in a new direction and lose a few people because of it, then that’s okay. If it starts happening in droves, that might be something else to consider. At the end of the day, you want people who are engaged with who you are and what you are doing. If that’s not for them anymore, so be it. You can’t please everyone, so don’t attempt to.
When it’s not them it’s you
To be completely fair, sometimes it is legitimately you who is driving your followers away. That can be hard to hear but it’s important you not go around assuming you are always void of any fault. Becoming aware of the type of things that turn people off from following your account can be a valuable thing to understand, and can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls.
1. Posting Too Much Too Frequently
Nobody likes having their feed spammed. It can be really tempting to post all 10 of those photos you took of your process of your latest piece, but for the love of all that’s good, please don’t. Instagram has a lovely carousel feature now, for this very purpose. Yes, you may think that every single one of your amazing photos should have its own special post, but people following you might not feel that way. You might get away with it once, maybe even twice. But do it all the time and you’re heading the right way for people to abandon ship. Instead, try to space the photos out over a day or two if you really want to post them separately.
2. Inconsistent Content
If you have a public account, and your intent is to use it to build your business you need to have content that is on point. I’m a firm believer in having a separate account for your personal stuff and your art stuff. It doesn’t cost anything to have separate accounts and it allows you to keep those 2 worlds somewhat separate. The occasional selfie or post about what you’re up to that day is fine on your art account, but I would recommend that this is still somewhat related to the image you are trying to build for your business.
If complete strangers are following you for your artwork, they probably don’t care about your aunt’s birthday party. I mean, maybe they do, but chances are they don’t. It can be jarring scrolling through their feed expecting to see art and getting a photo of a random person and a personal moment that means nothing to them.
3. You’re Extremely Offside or Unprofessional.
This point is a huge one. Social media is great for giving everyone a public platform and voice, but not everyone is comfortable hearing about your problems. Where this is especially an issue is artists complaining about clients that have wronged them somehow or are difficult. There’s a time and a place to vent your frustration and it’s not in front of your followers. Whether you consider the people who follow you your friends or if you think just because you haven’t named the person it will be fine, it’s NOT.
You’re sending a really negative impression of yourself from a business perspective if you are complaining about other clients on your social accounts. I would never commission work from someone nor would I ever recommend them for anything if they went on a tirade about a bad client. Yes, it’s frustrating dealing with people who have wronged you in some way, but you’re actually making yourself look bad in the process as well. Take your beef offline and away from people who are current and potential customers.
On a final note, you shouldn’t confront anyone who has unfollowed you. Seriously, I know it sucks but try to let it go. If you know them personally, it really might not be worth the awkward conversation that’s going to come from it. If it’s a close friend you can try asking what they think about your account and if they have any suggestions for improvement. That might be a less hostile way of getting an answer without being negative or confrontational.
The goal at the end of the day should always be to have followers who are genuinely engaged in your content. It’s better to have 50 followers who genuinely care about the work you are creating than 10 thousand who are only there because you traded follows. Sure, one looks good from a numbers perspective but that doesn’t translate to sales or long-term investment in you or your work. Whether they don’t like the work you are creating anymore or they were just trying to get you to follow them back, try not to take it personally. While social media has become a dominant force in our lives, always remember your personal worth is NOT determined by the number of followers you have.
How do you deal with losing social media followers? Share with me in the comments!