How to Avoid the Facebook Unfriending Trend

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By Jason Knapfel

social media marketingIn the early days of Facebook, it seemed like a rabid competition was on between people trying to one-up each other with how many friends they could make. While it may still exist on some level, there’s a new trend afoot: “unfriending” people.

According to a new Pew Research study, the percentage of people who unfriended other Facebook members rose from 56 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2011. Women lead the trend, with 67 percent of them saying they gave friends the axe compared to 58 percent of men.

Aside from the rewards I get in helping our clients with their social media marketing needs, I’m often turned off from using sites like Twitter and Facebook in my personal life. It’s simple: I just don’t care about what people ate for breakfast or did on their last lunch break, unless we’re having a good old fashioned face-to-face conversation.

I know I’m not alone in this regard, and it may have something to do with this trend of trimming our Facebook friend list. Interestingly, the most active demographic is the under 30 crowd, who presumably are the most actively engaged on the site: 71 percent of Facebook users between 18 and 29 years old deleted people, compared to 63 percent of people between 30 to 49.

So, what can businesses learn from all this unfriending? There may be an important parallel to consider.

Facebook users are becoming more aware and concerned about privacy issues as it relates to social media. While you may not show any direct threat to your customers’ privacy, they’re probably getting a little more discerning and cautious about who they stay connected with.

That means you need to approach your Facebook strategy with surgical precision. Don’t post mindless or irrelevant information that your customers aren’t interested in. Don’t overdo your posts either. If you clog users’ streams with more information than they need, they are likely to unlike you. Remember why they connected with you in the first place and deliver.

We may be reaching a tipping point of how much online engagement consumers can handle until we simply react by recoiling from it. How many social media outlets can you possibly engage in and still be a functioning human being?

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