Like me your jaw probably hit the floor when Lush made their recent announcement; in fact a whole load of you contacted me to ask “why are Lush Cosmetics leaving social media”!  I had a good think about it over my holiday and decided to get it all out in a blog. Hold on, I’m about to let it all out…………

With 569k followers on Instagram alone and over 1million across Insta, Twitter and Facebook the suggestion they would be shutting down their accounts appeared, well, ludicrous!

First off, just in case you didn’t see the announcement here it is.

So, what exactly are they playing at?

To be honest it isn’t at all clear and I have been researching and reading about nothing else for the last week.

If we take it at face value it appears that they are “tired of fighting with algorithms” and they “do not want to pay to appear in newsfeeds”.

They are also stating that they want to move away from likes and share passions by having direct, real life relationships with their customers by encouraging conversations by email or dare I even say it…. telephone!

But let’s take a closer look at what’s really going on.

If you read between the lines of their announcement a number of things stand out.

First off they talk about bidding farewell to SOME of their social accounts. This doesn’t discount social as a strategy completely and it will be interesting to watch how this experiment unfolds, which platforms they continue to use and how they use them.

They signpost people to use the #LushCommunity. They are therefore banking on a continued social presence dominated by the content generated by their followers, fans and customers.

They conclude by saying “this isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new” and I think that sums it up nicely. I don’t think Lush are leaving social at all. I believe they are just looking at new ways to use it.

I you want to get really cynical, then we can look at the whole thing as a protest against the growing trend for ‘pay to play’ advertising. Facebook and therefore Instagram are ‘encouraging’ businesses to opt for paid for advertising to increase reach and many brands are spending thousands every day. Lush recently announced a £4 million loss and so industry insiders have hinted that cutting off social is a quick and easy way to make a difference to the balance sheet. I’ll leave this one with you…….

What is Lush planning to do instead?

They have hinted at the rise of Lush personalities. It’s unclear at the moment exactly who these personalities will be. They could be influencers or people from within Lush itself. As mentioned earlier they are also encouraging fans to use the #LushCommunity. Both of these strategies mean a continued presence on social.

They are encouraging “one to one” interactions through live chat on their website, through email and through telephone calls.

What do I think about it all? (this is the bit where you may need to hold on!)

As a social media marketing geek I just cannot understand it.

In my mind social media is the greatest customer service tool out there.

Social media is a wonderful way to have direct relationships with customers. The power of tools like Instagram Stories allows you to share interesting content and invite interaction through direct messages, questions and polls. I get an average of 10 DM’s a day off the back of my Stories. That’s 10 direct, real life interactions every day!

Instagram Stories and Facebook Lives allow you to share content that really involve your customers and show them a side of you and your business that no other marketing medium can, especially not email or telephone calls.

Survey upon survey is revealing that most consumers prefer and want to interact with brands on social. They definitely do not want to wait a few days to have an email answered or sit in a cue, listening to muzac, waiting for their call to be answered.

You don’t fight algorithms, you work with them.

I totally get that algorithms are a pain in the ass. They change frequently and staying up to date with changes and trends can be draining. However, you don’t need to beat the algorithm; you need to work with it. No matter what changes are ahead one thing will always be constant. Algorithms reward accounts that put out content that their followers love and engage with. As long as you share awesome content and engage with your followers you can build a loyal tribe.

Brands have always paid to reach customers.

Paid advertising didn’t suddenly start with the invention of social 10 years or so ago. Before that brands paid for TV commercials, newspaper spreads, billboards, radio ads. Advertising on social is just the next incarnation of advertising. In the future advertising as we know it may well disappear completely and brand awareness will be driven by great content delivered on social media platforms. In my mind every brand must have a brilliant, content based social presence.

As you can tell I’m not at all convinced about Lush’s decision to go offline. I am looking forward to following how their ‘experiment’ roles out. It will be interesting to see how they continue to use social and I will be watching closely to see if and when they reopen their platforms.

When I set out to write this blog, it was called, lessons indie beautypreneurs can learn from Lush’s withdrawal from social media, 940 words in I have decided to save this bit for another blog!! Keep your eyes peeled, on all my social channels of course, for the second part.

If you would like to do a little more reading on the topic here are a few articles that might interest you.

Why is Lush leaving social media (Vogue)

Why is Lush leaving social media (Bumbl)

Lush is deleting their social media -this is why (Cosmopolitan)

What do you think about Lush’s announcement? Pop your comments in the box below.

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