File this one under “Study Results that State The Obvious.” Nathan Eddy at eWeek reports on a survey of Facebook users showing that people who tend to overuse the site are more likely to be unfriended. More than 1,500 people were polled, albeit a very small percentage of the over 500 million members. The primary reason for unfriending? Frequent, unimportant posts.
Posting about polarizing topics and crude or racists comments were the second and third most cited reasons.
The study comes from University of Colorado PhD student, Christopher Sibona. Weeks reports that Sibona and others believe the results will have far-reaching implications for businesses on Facebook.
On one hand, I am not so sure. With the separation of business pages from personal pages, one can make an effective marketing use of Facebook without annoying friends and family. I also wonder whether the study examined “unfriending” behavior distinguished from “muting” behavior – Facebook users have the option of muting posts by friends who annoy without having to go to the Draconian level of unfriending.
On the other hand, I myself have unfriended voracious marketers who overstep the bounds of Facebook “friendship” and muted voracious posters who clutter the newsfeed. There is little question in my mind that sites like Facebook and Twitter can be overused and abused. While there is room in these social nets for originality, creativity and connection, the overmarketing employed by some users in this relatively novel stream of commerce will turn off other residents. And while Facebook “unfriending” is certainly easy to do, unfollowing on Twitter is even easier. Your message is lost if there is no one there to hear it.
I believe it pays to remember that the old rules of advertising and marketing do not apply in the social media sphere – people are attracted to those who actually offer, rather than promise to offer, something of value. Part of the value equation is knowing when to speak and knowing when to listen. Think before you post. With every post I make, I try to consider whether it might educate, assist, entertain or support someone else. Leave the intercom on and running your self-serving message at your own peril.