Earlier this week, Lush announced they'd be removing themselves from social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) ditching a combined audience of over 1 million followers. Yikes! But whilst some grapple with understanding this radical rejection of social media marketing and pick themselves up off the floor, I can't say I was too surprised with the move.
It makes sense...
Their brand is based around transparency, their customers, social and environmental impact and animal welfare. They are staunch supporters of ethical practices; whether that's through the guarantee of no animal testing or introducing an Air Travel and Carbon Tax Scheme. Their customer base wants high-quality, chemical free, ethically produced and...well, honestly...guilt-free products. What's also important to note, is that Lush don't really "do" mass-marketing - in fact - I'm not sure I can even recall a single advert appearing in a glossy magazine. When they do roll out a marketing campaign, it's usually something to do with social justice (although not always getting a good response).
Their stores are their marketing. When you think of Lush you probably think of the incredibly strong smelling shops, teeming with brightly coloured products with unusual names (Fairy Trumpets, Ginger Ninja and Sex Bomb are some of my favourite), cheery staff and matte black packaging (-when there is any). They've landed themselves in shopping centres and packed high streets across the world (they have 105 stores in the UK and more than 900 worldwide). Their "marketing" comes wafting out of their shops and entices shoppers in.
So, do Lush really need to be on social media?
Of course not, their brand name is huge and their customers are LOYAL. What's more, they've basically monopolised the whole market here in the UK - if you're going to buy a bath bomb...chances are you will treat yourself to a Lush one, because subconsciously anything else feels synthetic and cheap. With their brand being so heavily based on justice and honesty, their reasoning for abandoning social media makes sense, they released the following about their decision through a series of tweets:
"We're switching up social. Increasingly, 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.
So we’ve decided it’s time to bid farewell to some of our social channels and open up the conversation between you and us instead.
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."
A thinly veiled dig at Mr Z, who recently revealed Facebook will be concentrating on "meaningful social interactions" i.e taking us back to 10 years ago when posts from family and friends were the priority.
What does this mean?
It means businesses will need to fighter harder to appear in front of their ideal audience and will need to throw money at it, in order to do so with some traction.
But that's not all it is, is it? Recently, social media has become a bit of a bad-taste in our mouths. It's addictive, it chips away at our mental-health, it's packed full with inauthenticity and has been used as an avenue for bullying and, in darker corners of the platforms, actual terrorism.
Lush aren't the only ones who have renegotiated how they interact with their customers on social media, this time last year J D Whetherspoons did the same. I wonder if bigger brands will now start slowly following suit? I don't think it would be a terrible idea.
OK, great, shall we just delete our business accounts now?
Er, no. Of course not. Small businesses can't afford to not be on social media at the moment. Unless you're a "Lush" of the world, it's still one of the most effective ways to get your product in front of your audience, start conversations with your consumers and build your brand awareness. But now, more than ever, it needs to be done correctly. You need a strategy, a message and consistency. You need to be bringing something, as Zuckerberg said, "meaningful" to the table and not just fall victim to the idea that sending out the same content will eventually build your audience, trust me, it won't. Social media is time consuming, but getting it right is extremely rewarding for your business. Want to know the best part? You don't even have to do it yourself, there are plenty of social media experts out there (*AHEM*) who can build you a strategy, create your content and grow your audience. So you can sit back, relax, maybe even have a bath...I know of a great bath bomb company!
Want your social media to rock? Need a new marketing strategy to smash your business goals? Drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to hear more from me? You can find me on Instagram @ems_marketing_consultant and Twitter @ems_talks, see you there!