On April 8th, the British cosmetics company, Lush, announced a major change in marketing strategy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: “We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed”. While many took this announcement as Lush’s social media farewell, Lush also said in this post, that their social channels aren’t going anywhere. Fans will continue to see news, announcements, and have the ability to reach out to customer service via these channels. Begging the question, was this a serious change in social strategy or a half baked publicity stunt? The world may never know. But one thing we know for certain is that this was a mildly confusing and poorly executed plan.
Even from a surface level knowledge of the brand, we were able to identify some serious missed opportunities on behalf of Lush. In a stunt like this, it would have made a lot of sense to take a stand on some real social issues, or tied their actions back to their brand values. As a wellness brand, discontinuing use of social media would have complimented the mission and message of self-care, mental health, and personal wellness. And, as a brand that takes pride in transparency with cruelty-free, minimally packaged products, it would be easy to take a stand on data privacy in defense of their customers. Simply saying “We’re tired of fighting algorithms” seems a bit self-centered considering they have well over a million social followers that enjoyed content and engaged with the brand.
Lush said what social teams everywhere have been thinking for a long time, and it won’t be surprising if other brands follow in their footsteps. So if you’re thinking about doing just that, here’s how to do it right.
Figure out what you stand for and how it connects to your brand values
What would a stunt like this mean for your brand? Does your company value wellness, privacy, community? Take a step back and tie your actions to your brand values.
Consider how your fans will feel
Are your customers concerned about privacy? Are they mental health advocates? Because let’s be honest, fans don’t care if you’re spending ad dollars or not, if they follow you, you’re providing value.
Don’t assume they’ll follow you to owned channels
One of Lush’s mistakes was assuming that their fans are loyal enough to follow them to an all new platform or community. This is likely not the case for most fans. Are you really prepared to give up the influence or reach you do have on social? If you’re not, you should be encouraging fans to move over to an owned community before you say your goodbyes to your social platforms.
Have a plan for customer service
Customers have gotten used to using social channels as a means for customer service inquiries. If you eliminate them, you’re eliminating valuable conversation and loyalty-building opportunities. Even if you decide to opt out of posting updates, you may want to consider maintaining your channels for customer service purposes.
Weigh the value of your data
Like it or not, social media provides a wealth of data about customer behavior, demographics, online habits, and values. Are you prepared to forfeit access to that data? If nothing else, make sure your data team has downloaded and stored any valuable data before doing away with your social media.
Consider paring down instead of saying goodbye
A strong presence on all social channels can be a challenge no matter the size of your team. Consider prioritizing the channels that align with your brand values and business goals. Maybe you want to build community and provide inspiration, Instagram might be a good bet as your only social channel. As a B2B or tech brand, you could consider ditching your mediocre Facebook presence in favor of stellar LinkedIn strategy. The possibilities are endless.
No matter what you choose to do, be sure to take your time and weigh all of the risks and benefits for your team, you brand, and your fans and then execute with clarity and confidence.