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I Culled Half My Facebook Contacts: Here's What Happened

For the last 12 months, I’ve been conducting an experiment in social media marketing on Facebook – which culminated in culling half of my contacts last week.

That might sound like a drastic move, particularly when social media engagement is supposed to be all about reaching the maximum number of people possible.

Social media marketing is not a numbers game, as my experiment highlighted.

facebookwhyAt the start of the year, my personal Facebook profile had more than 4,000 contacts. As of last week, I’d culled nearly 2,000.

But why – and what did the experiment highlight?

For the last 12 months, I’ve added all friend requests, added friends of friends, added contacts from any continent outside of the UK where I’m based, and generally increased the quantity without strategically monitoring the quality.

The result was that during the course of 2013, my Facebook News feed gradually filled up with more and more irrelevant content, more promoted posts which were irrelevant, more generic content which was irrelevant, more invites to join irrelevant Groups, more invites to attend irrelevant events, and a significant increase in wasted time. Clearly, quantity wasn’t working.

Having sat down and spent an entire day analysing and reviewing the useful content, interesting posts, contacts who didn’t spam, and the events and Groups which were worth considering, I culled half of my 4,000 Facebook contacts.

What happened? The main outcomes have been:

* Quality of Facebook News Feed has increased

* Quality of social engagement has increased

* Relevance of Facebook content has increased

* Quantity of traffic to my blog has increased

* Quality of overall traffic referred has increased

* Reach of Facebook posts overall has increased

It was an interesting, illuminating and useful experiment in social media marketing, and demonstrated effectively to me that playing the quantity over quality numbers game on Facebook – or any social media platform, for that matter – doesn’t work.

I discussed the merits of quality over quantity in this article more than 18 months ago – it clearly resonated, gaining more than 2,000 shares across various social media networks at the time.

I’ve always been an advocate of networking small and deep on social media: as in life, social media engagement works best when done in a committed, targeted and strategic way.

Social media isn’t just another broadcasting and advertising channel, as the Facebook marketing experiment demonstrated.

So, what was the main lesson from this experiment in social media marketing?

Numbers might look great, but it’s the quality of contacts that counts. Social media marketing works best when delivered with strategy and relevance.

Join The Conversation

  • Damayanti's picture
    Feb 9 Posted 3 years ago Damayanti

    Totally agree with you! I think a targeted approach with relevant content sharing works better for brands too. Creating the relevance among the relevant target group is growingly becoming critical for quality engagement & returns. However, still many people believe in quantity over quality which takes them away from the desired results.

  • hailley's picture
    Feb 8 Posted 3 years ago hailley

    I like the idea of networking small and deep on social media. Instead of trying to conquer social media by following the most people or having the most friends, develop those stronger ties and more important relationships. Those are the people that will actually vouche for you online and much more worth the effort. 

  • Feb 8 Posted 3 years ago LauriRottmayer

    Totally agree with the quality over quantity. I was a part of a group where someone said, "Let's all follow each other" and I participated. Until I realized that I was then overloaded with irrelevancy and unfollowed them. Great post! 

  • kenfehner's picture
    Feb 7 Posted 3 years ago kenfehner

    Interesting you are using a personal page for business. You will need to keep cutting you friends since the most friends you can have on a personal page is 5,000. Good luck

  • emersondameron's picture
    Feb 7 Posted 3 years ago emersondameron

    Did anyone feel slighted when they found out they were cut?

  • Feb 7 Posted 3 years ago MySongsDesigns

    I agree! For 5 years now I have gained, lost and even deleted some Followers on my Business FB page. I stll have 1,668 follwers and very little feedback/communication on my site. I have great product with an online store presence but still cannot seem to gather "real" followers that are truly interested in having dialogue. I am not about numbers I am about relationship but so many other Business pages will come over promising to follow me if I follow them. I am guessing that either they do not realize their follow doesn't necessarily gain them business and it certainly won't gain me business if there is simply no interest in each others product. Then again it's so easy to Like 100 pages only to block them from your personal NewsFeed which must be used to gain numbers. I am a humorous person, caring and genuine with everone I connect with. I always go above and beyond in my business, my online store Feedback proves this. I have been using Twitter for about the same amount of time and bounce between 525-545 followers. Not sure at this point what more I can do. My Pinterst Boards have well over 4000 followers & my product is being seen there.  Of course I could use more sales but I am dieing for more interaction!!!!  I'm a people person in a technology filled world! A head count on FB is impossible since no one will see your posts asking if they are interested in staying connected if they have blocked you.



  • Feb 7 Posted 3 years ago signman1954

    Thanks for this insightful discussion. I am a relatively new Facebook user, both personal and business, and I always wondered both how and especially why people have thousands of "friends" on Facebook, especially on their personal pages.

    The need for an audience and to engage with those related to your business is pretty obvious, but it is easy to just try for numbers, or even like pages or groups that are interesting, but end up burying your page to the point where the information you could really benefit from is lost, or at least hard to find.

    I had the experience recently of liking a community page because it had a few posts that I was really interested in. Right away I was receiving multiple posts per hour, sometimes repeated, of information that was not even relevant to the community let alone me. It was partly a sounding board for the administrator to go on about what he did or didn't like, rather than what the page presented itself to be. I didn't unlike it, but turned off notifications, so that I didn't see it unless I wished to.

    A few good friends can be worth much more that a plethora of acquaintances.

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