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Losing Twitter Followers? How To Lower Your Attrition Rate

Twitter attrition – or the loss of followers – can be a nightmare for a community manager.

How do you stabilize your follower count when that number just keeps falling? How do you turn it around? How do you know what went/is going wrong in the first place? Take a look at the data!

It’s not as arduous as it sounds, I promise. And by understanding what’s driving folks away, you’ll end up with a much greater understanding of how people perceive your brand and what changes your brand needs to make (on and off social media) to keep ’em coming back for more.

Below is a step-by-step guide to understanding, and lowering your Twitter attrition rate.

Look at the timeline, and get specific.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.15.54 PMHopefully your attrition rate isn’t this dire. But even if it is, closely examining the wreckage is the first step to building something better.

Check out the timeline you’re concerned with when it comes to follower count. Consider choosing a longer time period than you think you need to – oftentimes, the seeds for high attrition rates are planted shortly before those follower counts start to dip.

One way to do this is by looking at the follower counts at the time of each Tweet. This is possible through our Twitter Account Report, by downloading to Excel and viewing the sequence of Tweets sent out by your brand’s handle in the “sent” tab.

Screenshot 2014-06-24 07.50.28
This allows you to view your brand’s follower count at the time of each of those Tweets, giving you a close, by-the-minute view into the success and failures of your endeavors on Twitter. You’ll be able to see exactly when that follower count starts dropping off, if it’s one specific Tweet that followers found offensive, or a series of events that led to a slowly increasing decline.

You’ll also be able to decipher whether your follower attrition correlates to a lack of posting or too much posting all at once – this will help you find a nice Goldilocks middle ground for posting frequency.

Once you’ve identified the time period of your attrition growth, switch over to your “Mentions” tab to take a look at the user mentions of your brand on Twitter.

Screenshot 2014-06-24 07.57.17

Identify inbound Tweets that took place during the period of attrition (or just before it), to determine whether a user Tweet contributed to the follower loss. This will allow you to see the individual Tweet, as well as the user’s audience size and Klout score to help plan your response or next step.

Make a plan.

A goal without a plan is just a wish. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Depending on which patterns you suss out through your analysis, it’s time to make a plan.

If you’re experiencing most of your attrition on high-volume Tweet days…

Cut your average number of Tweets in half every day for a week. Run a fresh report at the end of 7 days. Did anything change? If your attrition rate levels out, you’ve gained some seriously valuable insight and validation that you were sending too many Tweets for your audience’s tolerance level.

I also recommend experimenting with the timing of your Tweets throughout the day and doing some testing on the content itself, too.

If you’re experiencing most of your attrition around one type of theme or link type…

Figure out what’s wrong and what will work better by experimenting with different voices. For instance, you can give your brand’s handle over to a different employee for a week at a time over a course of five weeks, set up voluntary companywide brainstorming sessions/content idea sharing sites, and even rethink the content you are linking to on Twitter – site content and product content.

An attrition problem presents a growth opportunity. It forces you to test, and to look at the various reactions to your content more closely. The outcome is that you find out more about your audience and how the public at large views your brand. That’s insight you probably wouldn’t motivate yourself to seek out if everything on your Twitter horizon was hunky dory.

A note here: Be mindful that your problem might be a combination of content and frequency  –  this sounds like a much scarier problem than it actually is, and solutions will surface as you carry out these various tests.

If you’re experiencing most of your attrition during low-volume periods…

I’m going to ask you to do the opposite of your high-volume counterparts. Double your average number of Tweets every day for a week. Remind your followers that you are still around, and still worth following. Run a report a week later, and see what the results are.

As with high-volume Tweeters, experiment with timing and content, too.

How would you deal with a falling follower count?

There’s nothing more goosebump-inducing as a social media manager than seeing your follower count fall, whether it’s day after day or all at once. The important thing to remember is this: while your brand’s troubles might start offline, online can become a significant part of the solution.

Do you have experience with taking an attrition rate from terrible to terrific? What did you do to make this happen? Do you consider analysis an integral part of the process? Let me know in the comments below – and click that beautiful green button for a free 14-day trial of our software, which makes it easy to figure out why your follower count is falling and what you need to do to turn it around.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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