3 reasons to embrace the unsubscribes (but please don’t unsubscribe!)

To be clear: I love my subscribers. I write for them. If you’re one of my subscribers then let me offer this personal THANK YOU. In many ways you’re the reason I keep doing what I do. I want to help you advance your ministry. I want to help you learn to use social media and your website. I want to help you in your diligent effort to be faithful in the work that God has entrusted you with.

And that’s why whenever somebody unsubscribes it can be hard to take. I used to lose sleep whenever somebody unsubscribed from my newsletter, unfollowed me on Twitter or unliked me on Facebook. I tried so hard to build my audience that whenever somebody unsubscribed I took it personally. Not any more.

If you’re like I was I’m going to give you three reasons to embrace the unsubscribes and free yourself from the sleepless nights. There are a number of reason people stop following you just like there are a number of reasons people start following you, and chances are you’ll probably never figure out what those reasons are. But here’s three reasons why you can release your conscious and embrace the unsubscribes.

1. You can focus on your audience

A common reason people unsubscribe is that they’re not getting the content from you that they thought they would. For me this happened when I changed my focus. I used to blog on theologically heavy topics. Today I write to help church leaders in their ministry endeavours. Those are two vastly different categories. I let my current subscribers know about the change and invited them to unsubscribe. Some did. But most stayed.

Since launching this site I’ve noticed more unsubscribes than usual. Not by much, mind you. Just a little more than normal. But I’ve also noticed something else: a spike in my subscribers.

This is a part of the transition. People who subscribed for one type of content are leaving while new visitors are subscribing daily. While I hate to see some of my subscribers go, I totally get it. But on a positive up-swing I know that the people who stay are people who need my help and want my help. In other words, by releasing the unsubscribed I’ve freed myself to focus intensely on those who I can serve best.

2. You’re always going to offend somebody

Sometimes people unsubscribe because something you’ve said or done has offended them. Now I don’t think we should be running around trying to offend people. And most of us probably don’t do that anyways. But the fact of the matter is, if you never offend anybody, you’re probably not an effective influencer.

An influencer is somebody who believes in something with such passion others can’t help but take notice. Being that person also means you’re standing up for something. And chances are somebody, somewhere is not going to like the stance you’ve made. And sometimes, as a result, they unsubscribe.

So if you’re doing things right you’ll probably offend somebody sometimes. And that’s okay. Of course we shouldn’t try to offend people. But we can’t lose sleep when we do. A mature person who doesn’t agree with everything you stand for and teach is the kind of subscriber you want because, chances are, they’ll be the kind of subscriber who stays.

3. It helps to keep your list real

YouTube has been cleaning house lately. Content creators work hard to grow their subscribers list and suddenly Youtube went through and “cleaned up” its user base. They removed inactive and spam accounts and what creators noticed naturally is the “number” of their subscribers dropped over night. For some content creators this was a big deal. But wise ones saw the benefit: it meant their numbers were real. By removing the inactive and spam accounts, creators can now have confidence that their subscribers are people who are legitimately interested in their content.

It’s the same with people who unsubscribe from your ministry or services. It means that the ones who stay are the ones who are genuinely interested in your content. As the saying goes, I’d rather have 10 raving fans, than 100 passive followers.

This is also why it’s always a bad idea to pay for subscribers or to go around places like Twitter randomly following people in the hopes that they will follow you back. If someone ever suggested you do this, take it from somebody who knows, it’s a bad idea. Not only do you lose a certain amount of social credibility, but you also waste a lot of time trying to acquire followers from people who are not interested in your content.

Why this matters for Church Leaders

The other day I wrote an article about why a best practice for leaders is to learn to “lead and let go” (like Jesus). When you lead and let go it allows you to

  1. use your time and energy wisely and efficiently
  2. have a greater impact on those who stay
  3. empower your followers to be leaders

This applies to your social media ministries as well. As a church leader you use social media platforms to influence people and grow the ministry that God has entrusted you with. In the process you will have people who unfollow, unsubscribe and unlike your content. Learning to let those people go (while keeping the door open) is not only healthy, but beneficial for your ministry.

Question: What are some other benefits to releasing the unsubscribed? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Thanks for helping to keep the conversation focused and for being courteous.