How might Lush’s social media boycott play out?

Written by Run2.
· 4 minute read

Last week, Lush announced it was abandoning its UK-based social media platforms, in favour of greater investment in its website, email and phone line communication methods.

In a series of social media posts across its network, the cosmetics company announced it would be ‘switching up social’, having grown tired of ‘fighting with algorithms’ and paying to appear in users’ news feeds.

A statement read: “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 news feed. So we’ve decided it’s time to bid farewell to some of our brand social channels – Lush UK, Lush Kitchen, Lush Times, Lush Life, Soapbox and Gorilla across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and open up the conversation between the Lush Community 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 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.

“This is the first, exploratory step in Lush UK cutting out the middleman between ourselves and the Lush Community. However, we understand that this isn’t an action that can be supported just yet in all markets.

“This isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new.”

The difficulties in engaging large audiences

With 569,000 followers on Instagram, more than 400,000 on Facebook and 200,000+ on Twitter, many have questioned why a brand would throw away a community it’s spent years building.

However, although many marketers still strive to grow their follower count for vanity purposes, it’s becoming increasingly accepted that large follower counts aren’t necessarily indicative of an engaged and loyal community. In fact, research suggests that as your following grows in numbers – even authentically – engagement drops.

On the face of it, Lush’s following may seem engaged, but after sharing its decision to abandon its social media strategy as we know it, some have questioned its ability to make the most of its following.

Mikael Lemberg tweeted: “If you’re struggling with algorithms, it’s because your content is boring and irrelevant.

“13 reactions and 9 comments on a Facebook post to 423,000 followers is just a clear indication of them not being interesting enough to that audience.”

Christian Lowery added: “Or a clear indication that those followers were fake.”

Other posts demonstrated much higher numbers, but in a follow-up post on Monday, the retailer revealed that just 6% of its fans and followers were reached by content in its news feed. 

Organic vs paid

Organic reach has been falling for years, with many social platforms restricting the number of feeds that organic brand content is displayed on. As a result, paid social has become a necessary evil for brands wishing to get in front of their audiences. Thankfully, if done right, paid social can lead to a significant return on investment. With the right strategy, you can grow an engaged community, build brand awareness, and drive sales.

How is this likely to play out?

Lush claims to be passionate about building a community through the use of hashtags, but it’s difficult to predict how this will play out when put into practise. It’s true that customers and influencers can shout about the brand on their personal profiles and build their own communities, but it’s unclear how taking away the central ‘hub’ that is Lush UK’s social accounts will help rather than hinder the cause.

Wouldn’t it make sense to invest in community-building while still keeping these platforms? That way, customers will still have a place to go when looking for carefully-curated Lush content. After all, hashtags can be misused by spammers and hi-jacked by those wishing to highlight the brand’s shortfalls.