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05.09.19

Lush isn’t leaving social media. (And neither are you.)

by Sarah Hoffman

If you saw any of the reports about Lush Cosmetics in the industry pubs earlier this month, you probably thought the sky was falling. I know I did.

It was headline after headline after headline about how the global beauty supplier announced they’ll be leaving social media. Citing that they’re “tired of fighting with algorithms,” the company’s UK account posted a goodbye GIF on Instagram which set tongues wagging.

At first glance, I actually thought the post was a latent impression from an April Fool’s stunt (the algorithms, am I right Lush?). It turns out this was a real announcement but the sensationalist articles are what turned it into an actual joke.  

We’ve all been misled. And by really clever click-bait no less.  

It’s true, Lush is sunsetting some of their UK accounts—Lush UK, Lush Life, Lush Kitchen, Lush Times, Soapbox and Gorilla are all going away across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But this does not signal the end of their brand presence on these channels.

Lush is shifting (and streamlining)  

To me, this move simply marks a change in strategy. And it’s likely (this is me speculating here) driven by a desire to restructure a bloated global channel network under a single account, Lush North America, which has announced it will remain active. I repeat: @LushCosmetics will remain active across all channels

The brand has also suggested they will be reprioritizing efforts to focus on building the #LushCommunity and expanding influencer partnerships. Which again, if you were to believe some of the blustering headlines, is not the same as letting their users run their channels (amuck). This is a brand whose business is built on Millennials, reviews, and word of mouth. Community and authenticity should be important to them so it should come as no surprise they want to up that focus.

Social is still a valuable brand channel

Despite what headlines may have had you believe, I’m here to tell you that Lush isn’t abandoning social or handing over its keys. And neither should you.

Sustainable marketing, focused messaging, user-first tactics—the changes Lush is making don’t mark some sort of social Armageddon. Instead, they fall in line with some of the most central principles of branded social:

  • Understand that social is ‘rented’ space. The rules are constantly changing and it’s our job as marketers to learn how to play with our overlords, err…landlords. Optimize, iterate and find what works (and doesn’t) under the constraints of the algorithms.
  • Own your brand narrative. You can’t control your image if you don’t control your image. No matter how great your fans and customers are, you can’t outsource your values and reputation to them. They’re you’re evangelists, not your makers.
  • Deliver a positive user experience. User experience is often more important than price or product. You have to meet the demands of your customers where they are so darkness isn’t an option—shutting off the lights doesn’t mean they won’t want to come to the door.  
  • Treat your community as your currency. You’re only potentially ever one negative post away from a total takedown. Remind your community they’re important, connect with them and reward them by exchanging value.
  • Think (and rethink) your strategy. Always. Be as dynamic as your landscape and regularly revisit your approach to ensure you’re meeting the changing needs of your audiences, channels and your own brand.

This move by Lush isn’t disruptive. (Though it may be the public relations disruption they needed in an attempt to drive attention after a full loss year reported in 2018. But you already know I love to speculate.)

Real or ruse, if Lush ever fully left social without a viable, accessible replacement, their brand would fizzle faster than a bath bomb. And yours probably would too.

Sarah Hoffman

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