As you may have heard, LUSH UK has announced they will be closing some of their social channels. This message, posted on the 8th April, has been shared on their main UK Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts which together have a 1,177,000 following.
I want to discuss a couple of things in this article. First of all, taking a look at their farewell message and the definitive reasons behind their actions and secondly, taking a deeper dive into their social channels and what they up until now, represented and offered their audiences.
It is currently unknown whether LUSH UK plan on leaving their accounts open (but untouched), or whether they will officially close them down altogether. So, just incase it’s the latter, here is a screenshot of the farewell message on Facebook (you can view the original post here).
Let’s have a look at their message.
We’re switching up social – That’s a pretty ominous statement which initially begged the question whether LUSH UK had some kind of larger social strategy under their sleeve, which could revolutionise social media as we know it. We were wrong.
Social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly – Could this be the most contradictory statement of 2019? Social media offer various ways to connect with eachother through comments, chatboxes, inbox messages, live video and direct in-platform calling. B2C is a two-way street, so if your conversation is low-lustre than perhaps it’s not the platform causing a blockage, it’s the brand not initiating anything?
We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed– In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) announced they will be updating algorithms on the platform which will prioritise content from friends being shown on newsfeeds before brands in order to have more “meaningful social interactions”. This would result in some brands on Facebook seeing a steady decline of post impressions and engagement. Understandably, this would have a major impact on businesses which rely on Facebook as part of their overall business strategy and profit gain. However, this does not apply to Facebook’s paid advertisement. The resolution for this algorithm update is having to focus on either strengthening one's content strategy and/or increasing ones Facebook paid advertisement. As Instagram is owned by Facebook Inc, we can assume this algorithm update would also impact Instagram though this has not been confirmed by Zuckerberg.
Twitter announced an algorithm update in September 2018 which allowed users to toggle between top tweets (tweets with high engagement) and real-time tweets. Although this could impact brands similarly to Facebook’s algorithm update, I would argue that as it gives audiences a choice, it’s not necessarily blocking a brand’s presence overall. A follower can still view a brands tweet in both top tweets and real-time tweets.
So we’ve decided it’s time to bid farewell to some of our social channels and open up the conversation between you and us instead – Here, they’re implying by closing down their social channels, it will “open up” and encourage a new way of communicating to their customers. Let’s have at a few quick facts about social media and customer service which may contradict their thinking.
- 63% of customers actually expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels, and 90% of social media users have already used social media as a way to communicate with a brand or business (Smart Insights).
- In 2017, Salesforce reported that 80% of consumers felt that an instant reply to their queries had a moderate to a major influence on their loyalty to the brand. 71% of respondents identified access to 24/7 customer care as the main influence on their loyalty, while 69% emphasised the importance of personalised care. By using social media, brands can be responsive across multiple time-zones. They can use social listening and CRM tools to help them make their responses unique and personal to the individual customer.
In layman’s term, by suggesting coming off social media will increase B2C conversation is a little naive. This could only work if they have a much larger marketing strategy to interact with their 1,177,000 social following. I’m all for making B2C conversation more personal, but who is saying it cannot be personal via social media? Let’s face it, who has the time to visit their local LUSH UK store for their products? We’re seeing a decline in people visiting their local high street stores in general meaning online shopping and thus, online customer service is so important.
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 cosmetic revolution – Fab idea, but, how are you advertising across the globe? I’ve never seen a LUSH UK tv or online advert, billboard or flyers. In fact, other than social media (including LUSH UK product reviews on Youtube by individuals) and their high-street stores, I’ve never seen any other marketing for LUSH UK. Now, I am a little bias. I’m not a LUSH UK shopper, never really have been. So I would not see any online advertisement for LUSH UK on my PC but, someone who has shopped LUSH UK at least once without clearing out their cookies might do. But online advertising is only one element of a marketing strategy. I love the idea that LUSH UK wants to “challenge norms” and “drive change”, how will they do this? What amazing thing will they implement to counteract their loss of social media?
Now, let’s have a look at their social content.
Having a browse over LUSH UK Facebook, there is room for improvement. Their feed lacks that pop! and wow! a factor which their stores seem to resonate.
Looking at this post in more detail as an example. LUSH UK shares a link to one of their articles regarding how perfume can tell a story. When we think of the LUSH UK brand, we think bright colours and beautiful aromas. Does this post resonate the same branding?
I’d argue no. Firstly, they don’t include any emoji’s to help tell the story and add that much-needed colour. The image, although it show’s a woman smelling a perfume card, doesn’t exactly excite me. Where is that hypnotising factor and smokiness they talk about in the text? Finally, they are using a raw link rather than Facebook’s in-platform link builder, which generates a clickable image for you. This could result in fewer clicks on the post as it looks a little clunky.
Twitter's content is very similar to that of Facebook's so there is room for improvement. Instagram however, is a little more product focused which makes this channel stand out in terms of branded content. Check out the snippet below which I took from their Instagram. Just these three images (without any context) alone tell a story and reflect positively on the brand's image. The big grin is representative of a happy customer, the middle image flaunts a beautiful array of products, and the third image highlights a LUSH UK product which can be used in the shower (beautiful and practical). If that wasn't enough, they use a mix of video and photo quality is of high resolution. This style of content could be optimised for LUSH UK's Facebook and Twitter.
Moving onto customer service.
From what I saw there were many comments which saw a friendly reply, even with a signature. But, equally, there were also many questions and comments left unanswered or not dealt with the LUSH UK way. Take the comment below which was written on their timeline. This customer clearly loved the Bumble Bee Bath Bomb, a product from LUSH UK and they’re only expressing their dismay as to why it is no longer stocked. However, this comment was left unanswered by LUSH UK.
Here, a customer is complaining about the failed delivery of their goods. They’re already upset, so how can LUSH UK respond to not anger the customer more, make them feel valued and make them feel like this was genuine, once in a lifetime hiccup with delivery? By offering sincere apologies, offering some kind of resolution and responding with a signature to personalise and help comfort the customer. Shame, LUSH UK’s community manager at the time didn’t get the memo.
Interestingly, LUSH UK’s Twitter and Instagram accounts seem to have a much more uniform way of doing things. With tweets and comments being responded to in a friendly manner while also offering services and suggestions.
Generally speaking, LUSH UK is closing some of their social channels because they feel it’s harder to have B2C conversations, and in doing so will personalise any future conversations with their customers. Bizarre, right? We all remember when Weatherspoons closed all of their social media accounts, but it didn’t really come as a surprise. Though after having a look at LUSH UK's three main UK channels, it looks as though Facebook is the only one raising red flags. They are bombarded with negative comments regarding their involvement and treatment with charities. There is a constant flow of customer queries and disappointments about products. This can become incredibly overwhelming, but their Facebook still has 405,000 followers. If customer interactions (especially negatives ones) is becoming too much to handle on one account, then they should contemplate creating a separate account dedicated to customer service and keep their LUSH UK main account as a marketing and sales tool. Well, known brands such as Three, Twitter and AOL all have separate accounts focused on purely customer feedback and assistance.
It’s a real shame to see LUSH UK leave the social space. The potential for them to make a social impact will be lost, along with their over 1 million follower base. By cutting ties with social media it is cutting ties with thousands of customers and their interactions with the brand. LUSH UK will lose out on free social media marketing (engagements, shares etc) and a whole bunch of user-generated content. Let’s hope LUSH UK has a secret which will change the way their customers shop because right now, it looks like they have put all their aces on the table.