Today’s top brands and individuals count their social media followers as a form of social currency. Accounts with impressive followings have the power to wield influence and gain the attention of millions of users with every post.
So imagine marketers’ surprise when Lush UK announced it would no longer actively post to its social media accounts.
The global beauty company’s new marketing strategy puts at stake years of effort that organically cultivated an audience of 1.19 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Lush UK blamed social media algorithms, which have shifted toward a pay-to-play strategy, making it nearly impossible for organic content to reach users as it once did.
While it remains to be seen if Lush UK’s bold move will pay off, it sparks an interesting conversation about whether a social brand can survive without social media. Here are a few takeaways from Lush’s social media breakup.
Branded hashtags create a sense of community
Although Lush UK is stepping away from its social media accounts, that doesn’t mean it will cease to exist on social media platforms. The brand encouraged fans to continue engaging with its brand via #lushcommunity and related hashtags.
Branded hashtags gives fans the ability to create and share their own content, and view content from other real users around the world. On Instagram, users can “follow” the hashtag, meaning posts containing #lushcommunity will be served up on their newsfeeds.
While the brand can’t control the quality of posts using its hashtag, it embraces the inherently social aspect of social media. Many brands use branded hashtags to engage fans, crowd-source content and shine a spotlight on its customers.
Leverage brand ambassadors
In lieu of posting to its social media accounts, Lush UK will leverage brand ambassadors as one way to keep followers engaged and informed.
Brands can tap their executives or employees with large followings to post about new products or company news. Encouraging employees to get involved with branding efforts can go a long way toward strengthening a brand’s internal culture.
Externally, companies can embrace their biggest fans by empowering them to become brand ambassadors. Companies can use their branded hashtags to identify users who post creative content or get the most engagement, and reach out to them for partnership opportunities that may be as simple as sending a swag bag of products for their review.
Get creative with owned platforms
Lush UK announced it plans to invest more heavily in its owned platforms. In addition to its retail site, Lush UK operates Lush Labs, a site that offers exclusive access to product launches and announcements. The site is by invitation only, elevating the experience to elite Lush users.
Lush also produces high-quality video and audio interviews to promote its lifestyle brand. It houses its content on Lush Player, a rich storytelling platform where fans can go to explore and learn about the makers behind Lush products, as well as where the brand sources its natural ingredients.
Lush is bringing its fans into the fold in new and creative ways, proving that brands can use their owned channels to set their own boundaries for communication.
Start conversations outside social media
Social media isn’t the only place to have a conversation with customers; it’s just the most public. Marketers who put all their eggs in the social media basket are missing out on the opportunity to have more intimate conversations, especially with potential customers who need a little extra nudge in their buyer journey.
Email newsletters with customized content, live chat features, event marketing, and of course, a dynamic in-person shopping experience create multiple touch points to reach and listen to customers.
What do you think of Lush UK’s move away from social media? Will your company look to invest more or less in its social media accounts going forward?