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The Dark Secrets of Getting Unfollowed on Social Media

Updated on May 16, 2016
Chriswillman90 profile image

Krzysztof is a 5+ year YouTube researcher that spends hours researching, analyzing, and uncovering YouTube trends, challenges, and media.

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We Love Our Followers

People love getting followed, and for writers, there's nothing more they're thankful for than their followers.

They are often the bread and butter of an online career because they provide happiness, recognition, and traffic for income. The more followers you have, the more likely you'll receive viewership that will dictate success.

The followers themselves also benefit because people often return the favor and follow them back, which could yield greater viewership if they're content creators.

But what happens when no one follows us or we're unfollowed, and can it have a negative effect on us?

The Effects of Losing a Social Media Following

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They'll Unfollow Us

So you've established a connection between your followers, but then the unthinkable happens and you get unfollowed.

If you're reading this, then I bet you're thinking "who cares" and I can understand that. It shouldn't matter so much if one person happens to unfollow you because in theory it's not a big deal.

However, there's a sting that occurs after they do it; and it may surprise you just how much something like this affects you. I know when it first happened to me on Hubpages that I was taken aback because I began questioning a lot of things.

First of all, keep in mind that the focus is on beginners and newcomers that have generally under 100 followers. The more followers you have, the more you're unlikely to notice if someone unfollows you.

Those with hundreds or thousands of followers normally won't care about getting unfollowed by a few people because in the end it won't matter. For those of us who have a few followers, it can feel demeaning if one of your followers decides to unfollow you.

But why is that?

We gauge partial success on the amount of followers we have and getting unfollowed feels like a slap in the face. To me it can feel like they dislike what I'm writing about or don't find my content interesting anymore.

As a beginner, you might feel like you're getting nothing but negative feedback, and you fail to see either the importance or foolishness of such feedback. So far on Hubpages I've noticed that this platform is far more forgiving than similar sites, and the community is a lot more understanding than I could have imagined.

So this writing platform bodes well for the more sensitive individuals.

The Truth About Online Success

Zombie prom king and queen
Zombie prom king and queen | Source

Are We Good Enough Creators?

As I mentioned, getting unfollowed is something people don't think will matter until it happens to them. The greatest reason why it seems to matter so much is because you feel you don't think you can succeed online.

For example, if you're an aspiring writer and are passionate about writing, then the last thing you want to hear is that you aren't good enough. Of course that's not what getting unfollowed means but it's something that we'll think about.

We want to be followed, we'll follow back, and the last thing we want is our followers to start paying attention to someone else's work.

It's an unusual topic to think about, but writers are competing in a popularity contest.

The writers with the most views, followers, and comments give you a higher rank in status among your contemporaries. You'll gain more accolades, acclaim, and success compared to the bottom tier of your field.

Remember that there's only a few writers that truly go far and beyond their competitors and achieve massive critical and financial success.

Those top tier writers are similar to the prom kings and queens of our high school, the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and the A-list movie stars we may dream about.

Meanwhile those on the lower tier are akin to the high school kids who get bullied, are overlooked, and are shunned by their classmates.

Writers are in one of the most competitive fields and only the best of the best ever really succeed. The rest of us can only dream of ever becoming half as successful.

The Real Reasons People Unfollow Us

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What Does Getting Unfollowed Really Mean?

Most of the time what you believe in is completely different from reality.

In this case what you need to realize is that it's not about your content, style, or technique but rather the changing preferences of your audience.

Your followers can only follow so many different kinds of people, and other people's content may draw them in more than your content due to conflicting interests. For example, maybe one of your followers loves reading different recipe related hubs and you mostly write poetry.

They may unfollow (I've used that word way too much) you to follow a writer whose main focus is on recipe hubs because that's the topic your ex-follower enjoys reading.

I can't say this kind of reasoning applies to everybody because sometimes it is about the quality of the writing. If your writing becomes sloppier and less interesting over time, then the problem lies with you rather than them. You have to show your followers you still care about writing because it means you still care for them.

You don't have to write content based on their particular hobbies, but it still has to be of high quality and meaningful. As long as you continue to produce the best pieces, then you won't have to worry if you get unfollowed.

Would You Follow Back?

Returning the Favor

Here's an interesting question that might determine what kind of person you are or what type of character you possess.

If someone unfollows you, would you return the favor and do the same to them. Obviously this problem doesn't exist if you've never followed them in the first place, but what do you do if such an issue arises?

Well if you unfollow them because they did it first, then it could be seen as a form of vengeance.

It's like one of those moments where you get what's coming for you on a far lesser scale. If I had to choose, then I wouldn't purposely return the favor unless my focus was on personal preference.

If my initial reason for following them was because they did it first, then I might return the favor if they decide to unfollow me. If my reasons for following them were because their content intrigued me, then I have no reason to let them go even if they did it to me.

How Much Does It Matter?

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Should We Care

I can't even believe something like this can spark so many philosophical questions. As hubbers we have better things to write about then something so silly right?

Perhaps we do, but it's usually the things people don't write that we wish to know more of. I've felt slighted before when I got unfollowed, and I wanted to address that because I know how much it means to other writers.

Every one of us on Hubpages is trying to improve and become better writers, so we crave positive feedback. The same applies when we branch out into our own blogs and websites where your audience is far less forgiving.

Well having followers is a big deal and while we shouldn't obsess about it, we should care.

I want to write for myself but also for the audience, and that's something numerous writers miss out on. I know we all want to be successful typing our own stories but that's not always possible. Sometimes we have to sacrifice a little to gain a lot, and we owe it to our followers.

As far as getting unfollowed goes, I'd use it as a measuring tool against your content. If you're consistent, then it doesn't matter but if you're erratic then use your followers as a guide to produce bigger and better quality hubs.

Eventually none of this will matter because you'll have so many followers that it'll be deemed insignificant, but that's never an excuse to produce inadequate content and all writers should know this by now.

How Do You Feel When Unfollowed?

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    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      I believe there is all good intentions in the beginning we do find common ground and thoughts in agreement, but like a family in a home everyone will branch out with different opinions and beliefs most are satisfied with.

      when we come to a fork on the road then we are faced with other choices of direction but the problem is does that direction lead you to the Journey that will bless you for eternity. The problem is people have settled for what they have now. They figure life is as good as, it can get for some, and some people will never believe something is greater ahead.

      when you speak truth many times people will not believe it to be.

      so sometimes people will unfriend you ,

      Not that you would want anyone to unfriend you. But realistically it is impossible to please everyone, Even Jesus could not do it. He was with out sin and perfect, yet imperfect humans killed him.

      We can get a positive view on it , for every one unfriend , you gain two or more as a friend , some things are replaceable and really not a loss .

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi chris, this is not an unimportant question you ask and definitely food for thought. I have been on Hub Pages a long time. I have around 480 followers I think an honestly I don't know if any have unfollowed me. If you only have a few you would be aware if you lost one but unless they personally told me they were unfollowing me I wouldn't know. If I found out that someone did, I would like to know their reason. When I first started here I followed back anyone who followed me even if their niche or type of hub wasn't really my interest. Now however I will read at least one or two of their hubs and only follow back if I think they write something that will interest me. It is hard to read the hubs of everyone you follow when that number is more than 400. I have unfollowed a few people but only if they never comment on my hubs or reply to comments I leave on theirs. Interaction is the name of the game and you need to know if people are reading what you write. If they never let you know or give you any encouragement well you simply don't have time to devote to them either. That sounds petty, but it's true. I don't expect people to read everything I write, just now and then when I write something that interests them and what I write is quite diverse. One of latest hub was a poem/recipe hub combined and listed under 'food" not "poetry". I have picked up a lot of new followers from that and now I fee obliged to write more recipe based hubs to please those new readers and hopefully get them interested in poetry along the way. Anyway sorry to waffle on. I enjoyed this and voted up.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I really appreciate people who follow me especially when they have lots of followers. They find time to read and comment on your hubs. I usually follow those who follow me except when they don't have a single hub published. I wish I can easily see who is not following me so I can decide whether to keep them or just let them go.

    • profile image

      Ghaelach 2 years ago

      Morning Chris.

      A good and interesting hub with many questions. I agree with my fellow commenters in what they say.

      I cannot remember if I have ever in my 4+ years on HP, if I have ever deleted a follow or follower. If I have then there must have been a good reason. Way back when I first started writing on HP, I think I can honestly say I was like most Newbies and followed everyone that made a comment on that latest hub. I have 1800+ writers that I follow and have almost 800 that follow me. A high number that I follow, and the truth be said some of them I have never seen or heard from since that day. Of those that follow me, and I can honestly say that I have a small number that like my work, and others I hear from, from time to time.

      Some dear friends have stopped writing or moved sites. I was never a poetry fan, but one person I never missed reading and that is someone that lives/lived by Lake Erie in Canada Epigramman (Colin) and his cats, or Maggie May or Eddy and her little corner of Wales. The list of "Where are they now" seems to be growing slowly. I just don't know where or what happened to these lovely writers, I miss them.

      When you know you have so many followers, you think you are going to get a hell of a lot of comments. But in reality it just aint so. As I say, I have my loyal band of followers, and I try to follow them all back as well. Some like my good friend John (Jodah) who is a master of poetry. I read his poems but as poetry is not my thing I don't feel qualified to leave a comment. You can't keep saying "Good Hub" all the time.

      Maybe the answer is to start your follow list from scratch and follow the writers that you know will read your work and you do the same in return.

      Some times when I've written a hub that I think should do well, it just seems to make a false start and then dies a slow death. That's when I get disillusioned or frustated. Of the 30+ million that visit HP each month (if I have read my info correctly) they tend to take a wide curve of my hubs. (sigh)

      Never mind life goes on. Take care and have a good day.

      Jimmy.....................aka Ghaelach

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      IAgree you expressed a better view Ghaelach , and your choice of words show you are a good writer, I am impressed with the words a false start and slow death, I have to say I have experience this as well. Sad though when people come along and buried it , you just move right along .

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I learned a lot just by reading through these comments and you're all correct that it's best to follow those whose work you enjoy. I guess I'm just following the newbie rule as well and following anyone who leaves a comment. It shouldn't bother me whether they follow me or not because it's not as essential as it seems. I'm sorry to hear you feel that people bypass your hubs as it's very unfortunate. I haven't figured out the formula yet, but I'm trying through trial and error. Those words false start and slow death are what ring true thus far but it's all about keeping spirits high. Thank you all for reading this hub and I greatly appreciate all of the comments. I wish everyone the best.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Perhaps I'm just very thick-skinned when it comes to my writing because I've had decades to form that protective layer. I know that not everyone will like my topics, my content, my style or even me as a person (gleaned from my profile, comments, and occasional appearances on forums), come to think of it, but that doesn't bother me. There will be others who like one or more of those elements of my writing and me as a member because there is much diversity in what people like to read.

      I've decided at times to follow some HP writers based on a single hub, and then later realized I didn't want to read their other work for a variety of reasons, including content and quality of writing. Quality of writing is important to me. If that makes me a grammar snob, it is what it is. I can overlook a few errors if the content is interesting, but life is too short to force myself to wade through poor (or awful) writing when there's so much good writing available to be read.

      I can recall a couple of HP members who gained my sympathy (and following) with their first hubs, but lost it when their subsequent hubs were published and, with them, my interest. So, yes--it's also about personality, perceived character, even the tendency of some to use words for no other reason than to whine. (This observation probably makes me seem heartless, but I simply won't waste time on a hub that has no value to me or--even worse--irritates me.)

      The other side of the coin is that I've been unfollowed by several HP members who followed me early on and later decided my writing wasn't their "cup of tea." For one thing, I removed all of my fiction and stopped publishing it here. Also, I'm quite outspoken about some issues which mean a great deal to me, from politics to a variety of social issues. If readers don't agree with my views, why would they want to consistently read what I have to say about these topics?

      The analogy that comes to mind is that oil and water don't mix. You might shake them together with seasonings to use as a salad dressing, but you must pour the dressing at once. When you set the cruet on the table, the oil and water will again separate until re-shaken.

      I like to support new HP members whose work looks as though it will interest me. I don't follow a huge number of members--only those who new offerings I'll have time to read. I think that should be the purpose of becoming an hp writer's fan. Hopefully, they will gain more followers/fans/supporters as they add new hubs to their roster.

      The decision to "unfollow" someone may be based on one thing or a combination of several, but should not be viewed as a blanket condemnation. As you mentioned, it's personal preference, but as I mentioned, those preferences may hinge on a number of issues, not simply topics.

      I offer this advice to all newbies: (1) work hard to improve your craft and ensure that every hub you publish on this site is the best work you can do; and (2) don't wear your heart on your sleeve. Anyone who is serious about writing will face rejection many, many times. If you allow an "unfollow" to bother you unduly, what will rejection letters (form or otherwise) from publishers, editors, publications, etc. do to you?

      I've garnered my own share of rejection notices, and decided not to let them define how I feel about my ability or what I may write in the future. I urge you to do the same--whether it concerns rejection slips or being unfollowed. You should know your own ability and potential, and your self-worth should be bolstered by that knowledge.

      There is one more element of following HP writers that was explored by Ghaelach. HubPages isn't only a writing platform, but a community of writers. It is easy and natural to become friends with those you follow closely and vice versa. When you faithfully read all or most of what your favorites publish here and they do the same for you, they become true friends. Like Ghaelach, I deplore the fact that some very good writers whose work I enjoyed chose to leave HP. Some have their own websites, but others "left no forwarding address." I miss them, miss their writing and hope to see some of their work elsewhere. Their absence is a reminder that life is not static, and people do move on.

      Sorry to ramble so much. I didn't mean to take over your comment section, and I hope you don't think my comments were meant to rain on your parade. My intent was to inject my own reality into the discussion. Take it for what it's worth.

      Voted Up and Interesting

      Jaye

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      I appreciate your comment because at one time I was very new to HP , did not know all the reasons why my hubs did good sometimes and did not do good other times.

      but rather I did or not there are wonderful people who encourage me , and that was an aid for me to improve.

      I think just because one hub may not be so great in format, does not mean future posts. The next one could be a sell out ,

      we should give people chances.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      The tough skinned approach is something I admire from other people. I prefer they tell it like it is rather than sugar coat everything. I appreciate you sharing your ideals on the matter. Quality is everything and if it doesn't measure up then I don't see why you wouldn't ignore their content. I'll have to be more specific in the people I follow and focus more on what I want to get out of following them. I should enjoy their works because it's engaging, interesting, and professional quality. Thank you for sharing your input.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      I agree with you Chris and Jaye , quality is very important, as axample we look for quality when we shop in food and clothing

      we do not go and pick expired goods and food , or holes in clothing or lose threads, but we have a eye for what is quality, I totally agree with you here. I myself think the same as these examples, I believe we have ametures who come and test the waters for writing, either they can or they can not swim with the big fish, but does that little fish stop trying ? or does he give up because he is just to small, or other things, No! He keeps watching and learning from the greatest examples , and the others allow him to grow and learn, but there are sharks in the water that will eat him up in confidence and his attenpt to swim as others, the point also is some will encourage. I hope I can always be that incouragement to new ones as well as many others , thank you for your wonderful topic of this subject.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 2 years ago from Sunny Spain

      When I came to HubPages, I was new to writing and to the Intenet. When someone followed me I followed back. I soon got overwhelmed by the number of Hubs being published by those who I was following.

      In the end I just settled for reading my favourites on a regular basis, and if anyone left a comment on one of my hubs, I would go and read and leave a comment on one or more of theirs.

      I really have no idea how many follows I have, so if someone unfollowed unless they told me they had, I would not notice.

      If someone unfollows me I would not automatically unfollow them. I know that I have followed some excellent and very interesting writers, and to unfollow one of them because they unfollowed me, would be like cutting my nose off to spite my face.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Great analysis on the topic. Seems like most feel that it shouldn't matter and that you should only follow those who write things you enjoy reading. I myself am just going to focus on my own writing, and if I read something I like then I'll either leave a comment or follow them.

      As writers we should just be happy people have taken time out of their lives to read our pieces. I know I'll always be grateful whether they hate or love my work.

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