British cosmetics brand, Lush, announced this week that it will be quitting several social media platforms in the U.K, much to the shock and surprise of many of its customers and brand marketers. In their announcement they said that they are tired of fighting with algorithms, and that they do not want to pay to appear in their customer’s newsfeed.
This is indeed a very bold move by the cosmetics brand. They are clearly trying to make a statement and take a stand against the GAFAMs of this world. And they are not the only brand to fight back against some of the big platforms. However, the fact that Lush in the US is not closing its social media accounts shows a lack of consistency around the decision. This has left many confused, questioning what Lush is trying to achieve here with their standpoint. Some have even gone as far to say this is just a PR stunt.
PR stunt or not, Lush needs to ask itself the best way forward to stay in touch with its customers. Ultimately, they will need to continue to engage and more importantly, have conversations, with their brand fans. This will undoubtedly be harder outside of social given that this is where many of their younger customers and brand fans reside.
Lush said in their announcement that, "Lush has always been made up of many voices, and it’s time for all of them to be heard. We don't want to limit ourselves to holding conversations in one place, we want social to be placed back in the hands of our communities – from our founders to our friends. We're a community and we always have been. We believe we can make more noise using all of our voices across the globe because when we do, we drive change, challenge norms and create a cosmetic revolution. We want social to be more about passions and less about likes.”
Whilst this is certainly a commendable sentiment, consumer habits have changed in how we consume media and, in my opinion, reverting to channels like phone and email seems like a very risky move. Especially considering Instagram’s continuous growth over the last few years and the recent announcement of Instagram’s new checkout feature - which could have been a real game changer for the brand with customers being able to make purchases in the platform itself. Not to mention the number of brands who have taken quite the opposite approach of Lush by actually shutting down their websites and going down the social media route exclusively.
Lush had such an enormous following in the UK - 202,000 Twitter followers, 569,000 followers on Instagram and 423,000 Facebook likes - and leaving social seems like massive shame, even if they are trying to make a stand. Certainly, if you play by the platform’s rules and go in their direction you can still achieve organic growth. You just need to ensure you do so with authenticity, credibility and most importantly, bring your customers with you.