Quitting Social Media

Last week, I read a BBC News article about cosmetics company, Lush, making the decision to quit social media. That’s right, they’re leaving it altogether. Everything - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, but, just in the UK though. The U.S. arm of the company will still operate its social media channels.

Why would they make this decision?

The rationale they’ve communicated is growing “tired of fighting with algorithms” and not wanting to “pay to appear” to get content into news feeds.

What are they giving up?

  • 569,000 followers on Instagram

  • 423,000 followers on Facebook

  • 202,000 followers on Twitter

Lush also said:

"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."

The company went on to say it was "cutting out the middleman between ourselves and the Lush community."

However, the company appears to potentially be launching a new completely decentralized approach to social, suggesting a hashtag for people wanting to chat with Lush. The cosmetic’s company’s marketing agency also mentioned “more work with influencers.”

I can completely understand the frustration at aiming for a moving and hidden target in the algorithms the social media giants utilize to determine what shows up in who’s feed. However, we know enough about these algorithms to know what continually drives them - engagement. Abandoning 1,194,000 followers out of frustration seems more than a little shortsighted.

Lush also contradicts itself a bit in its reasoning. They don’t want to run sponsored posts on social media out of opposition to paying to appear in feeds. Yet they mention moving to more work with influencers. Who would these influencers be? If they’re targeting micro influencers - ok, great. More power to you. But if they’re targeting macro influencers, most of whom operate on a “pay to appear” basis, which also requires an #ad or #sponsored disclosure, then what’s the difference? You’re still paying someone to appear in feeds.

A better move, in my opinion, would’ve been to cut, not eliminate, investments and resources into social media and allocate them into another marketing function. It never makes sense to put all your marketing eggs in one basket. The best marketing programs are diversified and well rounded. Cutting a program can sometimes be necessary if it’s starting to seem like a dead end, but more than a million followers tells me that social media isn’t a dead end. There’s still potential there.

It’s good for brands to start thinking about what’s next. That’s completely necessary. We work with many of our clients to look ahead. We’ve also been counseling some who are pretty reliant on social media to broaden their marketing.

It’s true that social media is no longer the promotional powerhouse for companies that it was five years ago, but it’s far from dead. Make sure you aren’t only thinking in the moment when making decisions like Lush did that could have long-lasting impact.