Don’t follow Lush, get off your ‘organic’ high horse, and start selling on social

As yet another brand gives up on its social media accounts, King Kong’s Sabri Suby argues a shift in mindset is required to truly win at social.

When Lush UK announced it was quitting its social media accounts last week, claiming it was “tired of fighting with algorithms” and didn’t want to “pay to appear” in feeds, the response from the marketing industry was mixed.

The news comes almost exactly a year after UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon similarly pulled its accounts, with founder and chairman Tim Martin telling the BBC: “I don’t believe that closing
these accounts will affect our business whatsoever.”

Aussie marketing expert Mark Ritson described the move as “brand leadership at its best.”

While these individual stories undoubtedly attract attention and column inches, the ‘social is dead’ line is almost always overhyped. Taking the dramatic step to give up on your social media accounts is a result of a misplaced distrust of social, primarily influenced by an oversaturation of bad content.

With a strong brand story, 572,000 Instagram followers, 423,000 on Facebook and 202,000 on Twitter, there is no reason Lush shouldn’t be a social media powerhouse.

The truth is, social hasn’t really changed that much at all. While its algorithms might get a fine tuning every now and then, the basic mechanisms remain the same.

What has changed, however, is users’ savviness. As a result, marketers must get a lot smarter to match these increasing expectations. As feeds reach saturation point, average content will no
longer fly. People know their own value as a customer, so unless you are providing them at least that same value in return, they will simply scroll on past.

When brands blame algorithms and decreased organic reach on their social media fails, what’s really happening is a failure to understand how people think. If you can fully understand a potential customer’s psyche and drill down into what drives them, it’s still possible to create incredible ROI through social.

The difference is, you need to put your money where your mouth is. You must know where your customer is on their journey to convert, which simply isn’t practical without a paid sales funnel.

This is more than simply ‘paying to appear’ in news feeds. If you don’t have a solid funnel in place before you put money behind social, you might as well chuck your ad dollars straight down the drain. There’s no point throwing good money after bad ads.

“But I have anecdotal evidence of someone who succeeded without spending a dollar!” I hear you cry.

Think about it: if your content or offer is compelling enough to be successful without spending money, imagine how much more you could make by paying to put it in front of more people.

It’s actually disgustingly simple to make money hand-over-fist on social media. Your advert sells a click to your irresistible offer, your offer proves value to the customer. Then, when the iron is
hot, you serve up perfectly-crafted, attention grabbing adverts. The simple fact is, if you prove your value to your customers, your trust in them will be rewarded.

So unless you want to end up amongst the disgruntled craftsmen blaming their tools, it’s time to change tack and start serving up unmissable, high-value content for your customers. Because they’re not going to wait around for you to figure it out.

Alternatively, if you hate bringing in new customers by the truckload and making more sales than ever, feel free to ride your ‘organic’ high horse to death while you watch your competition drive past in Ferraris.

Sabri Suby is the founder of digital marketing agency King Kong


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