In attempt to “switch up social” has Lush switched off the conversation?

Honest Communications, a specialist garden and home PR agency, social media management, content creation and communications agency

This article was originally written for Influence magazine.

Lush has announced that it will be leaving social media. In the statement, the company said “Social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly”. But is quitting really the answer?

By shutting down its social channels, Lush is turning its back on many vital communications tools.

Immediacy of content. Gone

Ability to reach hundreds of thousands of customers in one message. Gone

Direct engagement. Gone

Customer loyalty and endorsement. Gone

Its aim instead is to focus on direct customer conversations, but is pushing chatbots and phone lines an antiquated system that goes against modern usage habits?

The statement continued to explain the reasoning behind the move, “We are tired of fighting with algorithms and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed.”

Yes, paid for opportunities are becoming an issue and it is harder to appear in newsfeeds organically but there are still HUGE opportunities available for organic growth and engagement.

It shouldn’t be the either/or situation between paid and organic that Lush is painting. They should be treated as two strands.

If Lush is fed up with paying, then simply stop paying. That needn’t mean stop creating content for free.

They state that they want to “spark passions, and stop chasing ‘likes’” but social media shouldn’t be a numbers game, after all it is social so should be about conversation with engagement being the driving factor and not “chasing likes” as Lush says.

Would you rather have 1 million followers doing nothing and not caring about what you post, or 1,000 huge advocates sparking real conversation?

Perhaps the whole thing is a result to the backlash from the #SpyCops campaign where Lush received a lot of criticism, particularly through social media, and got its fingers burnt.

Whatever the reasoning, it will be very interesting to see the impact that this has, particularly the next time there is a crisis with a need for an instant response.

This comes a year after Wetherspoons hit the headlines with the announcement that it was closing down all its social media channels.

Other brands to also stop, and step away from Facebook in particular, include Tesla and Sonos (albeit Sonos only shut down for a week to show solidarity).

Reasons stated include as distrust of data handling post the Cambridge Analytica Scandal; algorithms making it harder to get organic reach; and a significant shift in audience demographics. The latter is true with younger audiences leaving Facebook, and the biggest growth in sign-ups being among the over 55s.

This all highlights the importance of having a well-planned and thoroughly thought out social media strategy. Instead of simply shutting down the pages,  brands need to find ways to maximise the opportunities that are available, identify the best approach and find the most relevant channels to fit the brand and audience.

Yes, it is harder to reach new customers but what about the existing ones? Shutting off social media is shutting the door on those fans, followers and loyal customers who have supported and engaged over the years, and removes a means of them getting in touch.