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Want to Lose Followers? Try Posting Inspirational Quotes

“Quotes are inspiration for the uninspired,” a wise man once said.

Irony aside, much evidence points to a grim forecast for the future of the inspirational quote as a social marketing tactic. You see these quotes on Twitter, on Facebook, and even on Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest as “inspirational photos,” with stylized fonts layered over ostensibly artistic photos. However, let’s look at some of the reasons why the inspirational quote has fallen off the list of best practices for social media:

1. Public perception towards inspirational quotes have shifted to the negative. They’re cliché, they’re cheesy, they’re passé. From the perspective of the 18-to-25 generation, they’re posted by only preteens who don’t yet know the ropes of social media and the older generation trying far too hard to be “cool.” This is content that these preteens will look back on with embarrassment when they get older, along with the emotional song lyrics and mirror selfies, and the middle aged person’s children will be embarrassed to have their parents post. The 18-to-25 generation is one that a brand should be looking to convert to lifelong customers, not estrange.

Best practices for social media - not!

2. Type this into Google while in incognito mode: “Inspirational quotes are.” What comes up? Most users aren’t searching for “inspirational quotes are amazing.” They’re searching for “inspirational quotes are annoying.” The top results that are positive are ones that specifically require that the quote meet a certain standard – funny, short.

3. Many parody accounts poke fun at these so-called inspirational photos. For instance, there is an account on Pinterest solely dedicated to pinning “stupid inspirational quotes written by teenagers.” A personal favorite is a mildly obtuse Tumblr account that takes pseudo-artsy photos with quotes in delicate font and scribbles an altered meaning on it with crude red lines (example below). This goes to show that this type of media simply doesn’t carry the esteem it used to. It’s time to move on.

inspirational quotes don't work

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine the best practices for social media strategy for your brand. Despite the overall decrease in affection for these so-called inspirational quotes, if this is what your particular audience demands, the needs of your audience overrule the needs of the general public. However, this is not the majority of brands. For the great majority of you, cut down on the number of inspirational quotes you post. An entire generation will thank you.

Join The Conversation

  • Aug 25 Posted 3 years ago bernster


    I agree with you. I find posts on my F/B of inspirational quotes on a regular basis annoying and unsolicited  (I can tolerate a few) annoying. You article seems to relate to businesses but would you say the same for individuals? I would because we are all our own brand.

  • Jul 26 Posted 3 years ago 5000YOW

    We have found the reverse to be true.In 90 days since we launched we have received over 60,000 Likes to our FB page and the most popular ones are for intelligent inspirational quotes which are liked and shared by thousands of followers.

  • anqicong's picture
    Jul 24 Posted 3 years ago anqicong

    Thanks for commenting, Troy! I completely agree that there are certain times where quotes can be used effectively and tastefully. It does all come down to knowing your audience.

  • anqicong's picture
    Jul 24 Posted 3 years ago anqicong

    I wish I had the stats to provide! It would be a pretty interesting research project, and I do agree that there are exceptions depending on the industry. 

    I will point you to the same page as Chris above (here) as an example of the type of cringeworthy inspirational photo-posting that causes people to unfollow. (Ironically I still follow her because it's so bad it's entertaining.) But I want to mention again that the title is not completely representative of what I'm trying to say, and in reality measuring what makes people unfollow is an unreliable process. 

  • anqicong's picture
    Jul 24 Posted 3 years ago anqicong

    Hi Chris, author here. Thanks for your insightful comment!

    I completely agree that the title is rather sensationalized; the main point I was trying to make is the decline in popularity of inspirational quotes rather than whether or not you'll lose followers from posting them. However, as I'm sure you know, there is plenty of quantifiable evidence that urgent titles generate more clicks. I don't particularly care for the practice, but business is business.

    I really wish I had statistics to provide. As someone with more of a technical background, I try to include statistics where they can be found. As it is though, my case is made from observing the tastes and practices of the people around me and how they react to these so-called inspirational quotes. I actually got the idea for the article because so many of the people I follow on Facebook were ragging on these quotes with hardly anyone posting them (the ones that do immediately get snarky remarks), but at the same time the generally older "social media experts" I follow were posting loads of stylized inspirational photos that were basically being liked by other similar middle-aged "social media experts." This is hardly the audience they're trying to convert, and when there are more snarks than supporters of something, that thing is going down. Kim Garst's page is a perfect example of this problem. 

    Yes, I agree with both you and Troy that you ought to consider the needs of your audience before what the general public wants. I mention this in my closing paragraph. Thanks again!


  • Jul 24 Posted 3 years ago CoastieChris

    While an interesting read, I don't believe the author has made the case supporting the headline and article premise that posting inspirational quotes equates to a loss of followers.

    Yes, the author pointed to some trends that indicate social media users are trending away from the practice. However, the author failed to provide any quantified data, case study or other information showing the correlation between using inspirational quotes and a loss of followers.  There are snarks the world over, so the existence of parody sites really doesn't speak to the likely behaviors of a dedicated audience/set of followers, it simply confirms that satire remains an appealing distraction and outlet for creativity.  

    I believe Troy's comment regarding followers is accurate in that deciding what content to feature is about knowing your audience and providing them content that they find engaging, rather than trying to find content to engage everyone.

    Providing content you know your followers want, rather than bending and swaying with the ebb and flow of social media trends, is really what social media is supposed to be about -- isn't it?


  • donovanpanone's picture
    Jul 24 Posted 3 years ago donovanpanone

    Would love to see some stats on this.  While I do think the inspirational quotes are overused, there are definitely markets where they drive engagement (fitness as one example where people are seeking motivation).

    Anything overdone will cause people to ignore posts certainly.  Do you have any examples where people have actually lost followers after posting inspirational quotes?

  • troyclark's picture
    Jul 23 Posted 3 years ago troyclark

    If trying to attract followers from the public at large, I agree. If however, one is targeting followers in their niche, and their 'quote' posts are highly relevant to that niche, I suspect they'll do just fine.


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