Lush’s decision to drop social media engagement is planning the brand’s funeral

"Nothing but a lone wolf making a bad decision based on nothing more than their inability to win at social," argues King Kong founder and head of growth, Sabri Suby.

Cosmetic retailer Lush has finally followed through on its two-year long threat to stop posting on social, deciding to no longer post across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat globally.

It’s easy to see why the company might feel dissatisfied with social. Lush have millions of followers across their various platforms, but judging by a quick look at Social Blade, their content hasn’t been attracting much attention for a very long time.

The Lush UK Facebook page hasn’t seen any significant follower growth since the company’s original announcement that it was going to shut its social accounts way back in 2019. For a relatively large follower base across Facebook, they clearly haven’t discovered the social media secret sauce (although ironically, its post about leaving social media has attracted a lot of attention).

As I wrote when Lush originally announced their ‘stepping away’ from social media in 2019, 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.

Lush might be jumping on the ‘social media is bad’ bandwagon, but it’s easy to dislike something when it isn’t giving you the rush of fans, sales, and activity you expect. Lush needs to realise that winning on social media isn’t something that’s handed to you on a plate. Organic posts won’t make money fall from the sky, and the company didn’t appear to be putting much, if any, investment into paid ads. Social media might look easy, but in reality, you need to put in serious work, time and money to succeed.

Some people have argued that Lush’s decision is the first in a long line of brands stepping away from social media. These people are wrong. Lush is nothing but a lone wolf making a bad decision based on nothing more than their inability to win at social. Facebook and Instagram are huge advertising platforms for brands and they’re not going anywhere.

Reviews.org research found the average Australian spends an average of 5.5 hours a day on their phone, equating to 33 per cent of our waking hours. Like it or not, that number is only increasing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

That crucial screen time is skewed heavily towards millennials and the Gen Zs, who are the people that are going to be fueling Lush’s growth as their current customers age out of the market. If Lush truly wants to make a difference, it shouldn’t come off social, but use its platforms to spread a positive message to its audience – an audience that will continue to scroll regardless.

If I were Lush, I would be funneling a lot of time and energy into YouTube. According to research from FameMass, people are spending the most time on YouTube compared to every other social media platform. YouTube is a place where the world’s most engaged passionate raving fans are, and it’s also evergreen content that keeps building over time as people search for specific content.

For a cosmetics company, Instagram and TikTok are also non-negotiables, and Lush’s decision to step away from these platforms is no doubt going to result in huge losses to its bottom line. Instagram’s ad and e-commerce solutions should be a no brainer for any brand looking to win in the e-commerce space.

TikTok is another massively important place for brands to be. From Ocean Spray to Duolingo, brands are already embracing a new way of communicating with their customers on the platform. Lush stepping away just when TikTok is coming into its full power is a major nail in the brand’s coffin.

As for Twitter, which Lush has decided to keep, FameMass’s data says it all: people spend the least amount of time on Twitter compared to any other major social media platform. If Lush is hoping that Twitter will be the solution to its social media woes, the company is betting on the wrong horse.

Brands have to go to where their customers are. A huge number of Lush’s current and future customers are on these platforms, and by not taking part in that conversation, they’re stabbing themselves in the back.

I’ll be back in 2023 to see how they’re doing.

Sabri Suby is the founder and head of growth at King Kong.


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