The UK High Street chain Lush choosing to break its connection with over a million followers across social media came as a big surprise. Lush decided to walk away from community spanning 569,000 followers on Instagram, a Facebook following of 423,216 and 202,000 fans on Twitter, by hoping that they will join a new kind of community.
A statement outlining its decision Lush says: “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.”
Some have speculated that the move is simply a means to garner more media attention for the brand, while their North American social media platforms remain in operation to compensate. But, why would a well-known brand like Lush need such a stunt? Definitely not, and I believe their action is serious than that.
Lush is not only the brand that took this decision so far. Last year April, UK High Street chain JD Wetherspoon decided to walk away from social media closing its all accounts in the social network that connected to over 900 pubs and bars. Up until today, they did not come back. Now the question is, how long Lush can stay away from social media?
Yes, it could say Wetherspoon survives without social media accounts. But a beauty brand like Lush, which highly relies on social media engagement will miss the opportunities. According to last year’s data from Socialbakers, beauty brands receive the most user engagement on Instagram and Facebook. Some 82% of beauty brands rely on social media engagement, such as likes, shares and comments. By comparison, just 50% of beauty brands rely on press coverage and 45% on web traffic. Hence, Lush’s decision stepping away from a platform like Instagram is a significant risk, especially given only last month the site went live with its “Checkout on Instagram” function, allowing shoppers to transact and track purchases without leaving the app.
Typically, Lush’s decision to remove their main accounts means that it will get harder for consumers to find and interact with them. Therefore the move seems to just limit their possibilities to communicate with their consumers. I believe Instead of fighting the algorithms, Lush could embrace them and utilise the constantly changing possibilities of new channels and formats offer to interact with customers.
Moreover, another biggest danger of abandoning social media could mean alienating community and risking client loyalty. I believe that it potentially removes a layer of transparency as consumers might think you don’t want to face any customer service issues in public. I think it will have a detrimental impact on the short-term upon consumers’ perception of the brand. To be genuinely customer-centric you need to be in the channels where consumers want to engage with you. And I really believe that the more open and transparent you can be as a business the more trust and goodwill you generate with customers, which in turn feeds through into sales and customer lifetime value.
However, a pioneering business like Lush will undoubtedly think of these on so many levels. But it is better to consider the consequences.