Lush, a beauty retailer specializing in bath, body, skin, and hair care products, made an eyebrow-raising marketing move in the midst of this year’s Black Friday shopping weekend. Instead of using social media to advertise its holiday promotions, the company decided to end its presence on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. This decision came as a shock to many, but a number of factors make it easier to understand.
- Why Lush quit social media
- How Lush is prioritizing owned audiences
- The relevance of Lush’s social media departure
Why Lush quit social media
According to Lush’s press release, the decision to quit social media was directly tied to Facebook whistleblower accounts from former employees and revelations surrounding The Facebook Files. “We at Lush don’t want to wait for better worldwide regulations or for the platforms to introduce best practice guidelines, while a generation of young people are growing up experiencing serious and lasting harm,” the company’s press release explains. “Now is the right time to find better ways to connect without putting our customers in harm’s way.”
By choosing not to engage with their customers on social media, Lush is drawing a line in the sand. The press release continues: “We feel forced to take our own action to shield our customers from the harm and manipulation they may experience whilst trying to connect with us on social media.” Until Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat take steps to create safer environments for their users, Lush is saying they will not be complicit in the harm social media causes.
How Lush is prioritizing owned audiences
Aside from the ethical motivations behind disengaging from social media, Lush’s decision has the added benefit of allowing the company to prioritize its owned audiences. In light of the recent Facebook outage, more businesses have realized that having complete control over customer communication channels is a must.
It’s worth pointing out tha Lush isn’t removing all social media presence—the company still has a very strategic presence on Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. But Instagram users who want to see the latest from Lush are greeted with a message that has more than one meaning:
Where is the “somewhere else” Lush wants its customers to be? The most obvious place is somewhere other than social media: a bathtub with one of Lush’s famous bath bombs, perhaps, or a seat outside to get some fresh air.
However, Lush is also using this opportunity to point its customers toward the communication channels it manages directly. This includes the company’s Lush Times print magazine, email newsletters, pop-up events, and community activism campaigns. Lush is expected to expand their efforts around these initiatives to offset any impact from the decision to leave social media.
The relevance of Lush’s social media departure
Lush is by no means the first company to remove social media from its marketing strategies. Bottega Veneta, one of the largest global fashion brands, made a similar move at the beginning of 2021 when it deleted its accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in favor of a quarterly digital magazine. Other brands like Telfar and Nike have made less drastic changes in their marketing strategies to prioritize community-building and direct-to-consumer engagement. With this in mind, Lush’s social media departure reflects a broader shift toward deeper, more impactful customer interactions.
Though leaving social media completely might not be a feasible option for small businesses that don’t have a very large audience to begin with, “zero-party data” and “cookieless marketing” are emerging trends that are worth pursuing to help facilitate these kinds of customer interactions.
The data that Facebook and Instagram provide requires a lot of assumptions and inferences. Zero-party data—meaning data that you collect, analyze, and store in your own CRM platform—provides more reliable insight than what comes from third parties.
For example, your company might benefit from a short quiz that allows customers to personalize their profiles according to their unique preferences. Questions about what kinds of products your customers prefer and their buying habits can be used to inform your business decisions. No matter how sophisticated the technology is, social media platforms lack the same kind of precision with their data collection methods.
Third-party cookies are simultaneously losing their long-term viability. More regulations are emphasizing the importance of consumer privacy, and consumers are becoming more aware of how companies use their data. In the near future, Google will join the ranks of search engines that block third-party cookies, meaning businesses who still rely on this information to market to their customers should prioritize growing their owned audiences ASAP.
When the time inevitably comes that solely relying on social media and search engines to understand and communicate with your customers is no longer an option, will your business be left scrambling to make up the difference?