Zig when when others zag. That’s classic marketing wisdom—and it’s embodied by mega beauty brand Lush’s move to ditch Instagram. Our guest blogger Haley Lee unpacks the story and what we can learn from it.
Ah, that age old question: if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, did it really fall? Well, here’s a new one for you: if you have a business, but it’s not on Instagram… does it even really exist? In the ever constant battle of Instagram vs. reality, it seems like Instagram is winning, 10,000 likes to 1. I mean, an entire generation of kids already have their entire childhood catalogued on the gram. You can shop on Instagram! You can stalk on Instagram! Whether you’re exploring new brands or doing your due diligence on Bobby from the bar, more and more, it seems if you don’t have a social media presence…welp, there goes your relevance.
Or does it?
Lush, a UK cosmetics brand, decided the answer is a big, bold NO. As part of a new marketing strategy, Lush announced in April they’d no longer post on Instagram or Twitter and bid farewell to their massive following of 577,000 and 203,000, respectively. Fed up with fighting algorithms, and being pressured into the ‘pay to play’ culture of the Instagram feed, Lush finally had enough. Some of their final tweets stated, “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 more about passions and less about likes.”
So how do they plan to stay relevant? They’re channeling their marketing energy into more events and creating content on Lush-owned platforms—of which there are many. In addition to their regular website, Lush Player provides video content of Lush behind the scenes, through short films and TedTalk-style forums. Lush Labs showcases up-and-coming creations the brand is making, while the Lush Times is a print magazine distributed 2-3 times a year. While their social media accounts still exist, they are no longer active on them. Instead, Lush is encouraging customers to use email, telephone, and live chat on their website to stay in touch.
Here are three lessons you can take away from their move:
Invest in multiple platforms.
If the Instagram Blackout taught us anything, it’s that having your entire business (or the bulk of it) on only one platform can be disastrous. Even if you don’t have the resources of Lush, or find it unnecessary to have so many different platforms, we can all learn a valuable lesson from the brand: keep lines of communication open on multiple platforms, not just one – whether that means revamping your business’ website, creating a variety of content about your business, or adding a live chat option. Be cognizant of where most of your communication is happening.
Play to your strengths.
Lush is a trailblazer in cosmetics creation. They’re constantly churning out eco-friendly, vegan, or off-the-wall creations. Because of that, they have faith in their own platforms and their ability to create amazing content – they just don’t want to pay to have it seen. They know themselves and they know their bottom line. Similarly, companies like Amazon, Apple, and Chik-Fil-A invest heavily in customer service. Essentially, they seek to make a customer experience so amazing that the customers themselves become their greatest marketers. While Amazon and Apple admittedly have a huge social media following, is that really the first thing that comes to mind when you think of these brands? Whether you shift your resources from content creation to customer service, or something else, know what your business does well and go from there.
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
We (marketers) pride ourselves on being able to think outside the box – in fact, our livelihood depends on it. By quitting social media, Lush has taken a risk few businesses (if any) have done before it. But on the Twitter thread there were quite a few negative responses, deeming it a dumb move. The irony? Most of the naysayers were those in the social media marketing industry, not Lush consumers. Even if you don’t agree with their decision, Lush deserves some recognition for doing what few have the courage to do. Why shame a company for bucking the system and doing what works for them?
In the age of Instagram, Lush may seem kooky for choosing to opt out entirely. But maybe the brand is just doing what we all need to do more of – existing in the real world, not just on social media. As Lush themselves put it, “We’re a community and we always have been. 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 […] revolution.” Who can argue with that?