Girl on escalator in shopping mall

Should Your Brand Follow LUSH and Quit Social Media?

Earlier this month, UK cosmetics chain Lush deleted its social media accounts.The company, which is famous for its fizzing bath bombs and handmade soap, said in a statement, ‘social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed.’ They went on to the say that customers could still contact them via the live chat feature on their website, by email, and telephone.

Following the announcement, their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages were promptly shut down, leaving only the hashtag #LushCommunity active for sharing content.

The brand claimed to be taking a moral stance against social networks and their addictive nature.

A new trend

The move was surprising as Lush had an enviable online following in the UK, with more than 560,000 followers on Instagram, 420,000 on Facebook and 200,000 on Twitter. But it isn’t the first brand to leave social media. JD Wetherspoons also shut down the social media accounts for all 900 of its bars and restaurants last year. They cited the abuse of personal data by social media platforms, the addictive allure of social media, and trolling as the reasons. The chairman Tim Martin told the BBC, ‘many of us are fed up with social media … people are on it far too much. It doesn’t do them any good, it doesn’t do the country any good.’

LUSH and Wetherspoons openly expressed their displeasure at social media’s influence on society. And this is in step with a growing backlash against the likes of Facebook and Instagram, caused by the rise of fake news, and the non-consensual collection of personal data. In 2017, it was revealed that nearly 50m of Twitter’s 320m+ users were bots, used specifically to spread fake news stories around the web. And last year, Facebook was criticised for allowing UK data firm, Cambridge Analytica to access and ‘harvest’ data from over 80million of its users, which is alleged to have influenced the results of both the 2016 US election result and the EU Referendum in the UK.

Has LUSH made a big mistake?

It’s admirable that LUSH is taking a stand. But in an era where every brand and its dog uses social media to interact directly with audiences and gain fans, this is a high-risk strategy, especially as beauty brands receive the most user engagement on Instagram and Facebook, second only to fashion, according to data from Socialbakers 2018.

The other question is, if the brand manages to migrate its million-strong online audience to email and live chat, will it be possible to engage and serve them all to the same standard?

It’ll be interesting to see how this scenario plays out for LUSH. It’ll also be interesting to see if other brands start following suit.

If LUSH has got you re-considering your social media presence, think carefully before making any rash decisions. It’s a key comms and PR tool, and there are potential pitfalls of abandoning a touchpoint used by such vast numbers of consumers.

What are the dangers of switching off social media?

Alienating your customers

There are 2.77 billion social media users around the globe. The fact is your customers are online and social media is still one of the quickest, easiest and most convenient ways to engage with them. To create meaningful connections with customers, you need to be where they are. Communicating via social media in a personalised and relevant way is a very customer-centric way of sharing information, offers and news. Removing such a valuable touchpoint for consumers altogether may frustrate them into finding an alternative retailer.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that social media is one of the most popular channels for user engagement. So opting for live chat, and other niche kinds of content delivery, could mean losing out on potential clients, as well as excluding those who are uninterested in exploring these alternative means of connecting with you.

Brand monitoring

Social media is an earpiece for your brand. It enables you to gain valuable insight into what your customers like and don’t like, and what they’re feeling about your brand. You could miss out on crucial customer feedback if you abandon your social channels.

Crisis management

If a crisis hits your brand, your customers will look to social media for a response. If you’re not on there, they’ll look elsewhere and the stories they find may not paint you in a positive light. The best way to control your story is with regular updates on social media.

Just because you decide to go dark on social media, it doesn’t mean your customers have. By cutting them off, you’ve effectively given up your right of reply.

Want to join the PR revolution? Call me now on +44 (0)77604 70309

I get you into the places that matter

The Times
Financial Times
Evening Standard