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Lush

Lush gives social media an early bath

Lush

Lush gives social media an early bath

Cosmetics company Lush has called time on its UK social media presence, with its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts set to close this week.

The firm, known for its bath bombs and ethically made soaps, said in a statement that it was “tired of fighting algorithms” and is finding social media a difficult form of direct communication.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv_F76GFOZw/

In making this move though, LushUK says goodbye to over half a million Instagram followers, as well as 423,000 likes on Facebook and 202,000 followers on Twitter, so what is the rationale behind the decision?

Going the way of Wetherspoon?

Lush is not the first major British chain to decide to ditch social media. Almost exactly a year ago, pub chain JD Wetherspoon chose to pull the plug on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with its outspoken chairman Tim Martin citing negative associations of social media such as trolling and data misuse.

In Lush’s case, the reason given is quite different. The statement says:

“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.”

This seems a confusing point, however, when the statement goes on to suggest that followers can get in touch with the company by phone, email or live chat. These were all options that were available before, so by wiping social media, Lush does appear to be limiting its communication platforms in a way it says it doesn’t want to, leaving some onlookers baffled.

It’s also a surprise move because Lush – much more so than Wetherspoon – is a highly visual company, with its brightly coloured soaps lending themselves particularly well to Instagram, and has always retained something of a cult status on social media, with shoppers keen to share what they’ve bought with the online world. YouTube in particular is awash with videos of people demonstrating Lush products, such as the below one with more than four million views.

Community focus

It’s interesting, however, that Lush mentions “communities” in its statement. With so many devoted Lush lovers sharing their passion on social media anyway, perhaps the company feels that it can get shoppers to do their social media marketing for them?

This is certainly an advantage to being an established company with products people want to show off, but the downside of being a recognised name with no official social media platform is that it opens the door for pranksters. This is probably the main issue Wetherspoon has faced since its decision, with the chain having to fight a legal battle against impersonators and parody accounts. One of the main headaches the pubs experienced came from a tweet falsely claiming that anyone who turned up at a Wetherspoon pub wearing a waistcoat during last summer’s FIFA World Cup could get a free drink, resulting in some disappointed waistcoat-clad would-be-drinkers.

Lush, due to its environmental stance and activism, tends to attract better publicity than Wetherspoon, so is unlikely to find itself needing to fend off such trickery. Still, the company did face criticism last year over what was seen by some as an anti-police advertising campaign, and given that such controversy gathers pace on social media, it should consider how it would go about managing any repeat incident without social accounts of its own.

John Murray

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