Facebook "unfriending" trend. Should marketers worry?

Just when you thought it was safe to enter the social media crowded waters, now this? There's a slight buzz about Facebook users "unfriending" movement. A recent pounfriendst by Mathew Ingram confirms it but we don't have actual numbers to categorize it as a trend. It probably is not. However, I believe that the underlying cause, what Mark calls " information overload" is something as marketers we can not ignore. Most of us can barely keep up, okay let me rephrase,  are not keeping up, with the barrage of emails, tweets, LinkedIn updates and of course Facebook. Even with an arsenal of "digital switches" in each application that allow us to streamline or block incoming feeds, we're still bombarded. The "instant-gram" of communicating is texting but it is limited to individuals for the most part. I believe, that if "unfriending" is a trend, it is a positive trend. I would  characterize it as a "social media correction" just like corrections in the stock market. Why is that good for business?

It shows that consumers are placing more value not only on their time but what they do with it. Customers that give a high priority to "value" are ideal for marketers. Jon Goldman eloquently states: "Research tells us the attention span of the average individual is 30 seconds. Research also tells us that we form an impression of someone in a matter of seconds. It’s the same with products. Time can be a killer. Respect it. Use your customer’s time sparingly"

A retail clothing chain in New York was known for this slogan "At Syms an educated consumer is our best customer". This was years before the internet and kudos to Syms for recognizing how differentiation and value bring customers back every time.

The "unfriending" behavior is another wake up call to anyone who takes marketing for granted. "Like us on Facebook" isn't marketing. It may have been relevant when Facebook launched, but today, liking is a nod not purchasing behavior.

The reality is that what some marketer are touting as the "secret strategies" for social media optimization isn't secret at all: Get noticed, make a connection, nurture the connection and remember to never take it for granted.

Getting noticed is about the value that you provide. The value you offer starts with a clear definition of your target customer, then an intimate knowledge of your customers' wants and needs and a detailed analysis of your competitors. Now, you're ready to answer the question that will get you noticed: "How am I different from everyone else and why should you buy from me"?

Making connections goes back to a clear definition of your target markets and what they demand and expect out of the relationship.

Nurturing is the most critical step. You've got my attention, why should I be coming back for more? Note "nurturing" not pretending to "reveal" something only to get click-thrus.

Oh, by the way, what we just discussed is marketing basics; develop a plan and execute. Social media should be one component of implementation tactics (tools). You can have a separate social media strategy only if you've previously developed a master marketing plan.

Internet and mobile technology enable fast connections. But, the same technology is making it sooooo easy to also "unfriend", "unsubscribe", "unlike".

Don't get overwhelmed or impressed with tons of data that is typically thrown at you. As Nate Silver puts it "Every day, three times per second, we produce the equivalent of the amount of data that the Library of Congress has in its entire print collection. Most of it is...irrelevant noise. So unless you have good techniques for filtering and processing the information, you’re going to get into trouble".

You can't go wrong if you stick with basics: You must have a written marketing plan. The Plan outlines your goals, activities and how you'll measure success. The written plan is your company's brain. You may continue to do business without a plan (brain-dead) but it is only a question of time before your business organs will begin to fail.


  1.  Stay on top of marketing and marketing communications. When we spot trends, it may be too late to adjust.
  2. Stick to basics and you'll do fine: Written Marketing and Sales plans are a must.
  3. Spend little time chasing "likes" and most of your time nurturing connections and developing relationships with your customers and prospects.
  4. "TLC": Think like Customers. Review your marketing and sales materials and ask "What's in it for me" and "why should I do business with you"?
  5. Are you in the "speed-dating" or "long term relationship" business? Lasting relationships require listening skills, commitment, communications and cooperation.