Biz Tips: Farewell to Social Media or How Platforms Made Brands Desperate

Biz Tips: Farewell to Social Media or How Platforms Made Brands Desperate


Farewell to Social Media or How Platforms Made Brands Desperate

Farewell to Social Media or How Platforms Made Brands Desperate

Lush Cosmetics United Kingdom announced that it ‘bids farewell’ to a couple of social media channels. Well-known for highly elaborated social media strategy, in particular — for the public conversation with customers via the Instagram comments section, the brand plans to shift all digital marketing activity to traditional channels after a £4m loss in the recent financial report. Lush is not a pioneer at all: one year ago Elon Muck pulled out Tesla and SpaceX Facebook pages launching #deletefacebook flashmob. The famous English pub chain J D Wetherspoon quit all social media activity. But it was Lush whose controversial decision served to generate debates in the worldwide digital community on whether this step can evolve into the movement.

Dictum — Factum: ‘Tired of Fighting’

Ironically, the whole thing started on April 8, 2019, with the messages on the official Lush pages on Instagram and Twitter. ‘We’re switching up social. Increasingly, social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed’, the announcement reads. In line with its usual rhetoric, Lush explained that the new channels of conversation with customers and collecting their feedback would be established. Moreover, during the whole next week, the hotline, live chat, and the dedicated e-mail will be available for the applications. Recently, coincidence or not, Lush social media policy has been targeted by the Russian feminist community. It was a bizzare case: Russian bloggers and feminist activist Bella Rapoport asked the official Lush account to provide her with some free products in return for reviews on Instagram and was politely rebuffed. Ms. Rapoport published the screenshot of the conversation and accused Lush of hypocrisy as she thought she was rejected due to the small number of followers. This inconspicuous plot caused the real storm in Russian social networks: the activist was called a freeloader and received a couple of xenophobic and lookist comments. While both the Russian Lush brand manager and CEO were standing its ground, the head office of Lush in London presented by the director of ethics, Hillary Jones, apologized to the activist.

Even after this gossip, Lush decision to escape from the social networks proved quite controversial by the community. ‘This could actually be a really good move. They will have customers and influencers creating content and still have a presence but without having to maintain the day to day account administration’, Sally Telford of Maya Agency wrote in her corporate Medium. Mrs. Telford argues that moving marketing efforts of social media can help Lush to upgrade the full customer service. By the way, Mike Blake-Crawford, strategy director at Social Chain agency considered the escape of Lush to be a bad idea. He used awe-inspiring numbers: ‘Lush are forgiving the investment undertaken to accumulate this fanbase. A rough CPA for social media fans is somewhere between 50p to £1, so taking their 1.1m total following across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter into account, you’re looking at an audience value of circa £500,000′.

Brand content in social media goes through its tough times. It is in the spotlight only when some scandal occurs — usually with xenophobic or sexist implication. Every day social media ads became annoying — when some brand announces 3 percent discount on a dozen of outdated items, you are informed about it too many times. Who knows, maybe it is one of the roots of Gen Z disregard for classic social media platforms. But the thorniest issue is — will the step of Lush remains an isolated bizarre action or we are on the eve of a new game-changing trend? At the moment, the vast majority of predictions look like pre-term speculations. Maybe, we need to listen to the other side of the story to get the answer.

Audi Alteram Partem: Giants Go For War

We can hardly define the exact moment when social platforms decided to change their attitude towards brands. For the years, every social network was among the most reliable sources of leads for the businesses of all sorts, from local photo studios to global companies. Step by step our newsfeeds were evolving into somebody’s marketplace, our likes, and shares — into somebody’s CPAs. Social media budgets of brands seemed to be the never-fading klondike for Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

But something went wrong. Maybe, after the infamous series of Cambridge Analytica scandals with the corrupted elections, personal data fraud, etc. social media giants started to fight against the invasion of brand content.

Let’s look on some reports from this battlefield.

Social Media Platform Surprises For Brands in 2018



January 2018: Mark Zuckerberg announced that FB is going to prioritize content from friends and family and de-emphasize content from brands, businesses and media publishers (so-called “public content”)


July 2018: New policy restrictions will no longer permit simultaneous posts with identical content across multiple accounts. The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content is not permitted


August 2018. Group e-mailing features are redesigned, admin and auto-generated group emails (including digests, automated templates, and announcements) are unavailable.


Summer, 2018: Strict anti-spam policy, ban for the naked body, for other people’s photos without attribution or authorization and signing in with two or three different devices. Third-party applications’ usage is limited. With the switch to a non-chronological algorithm, some sponsored ads can hardly reach the audience.


September 2018: Third-party advertising and sponsorships are not allowed. Users must disclose somewhere in the post that it includes affiliate links.

As we can see, the brands are not leaving as they are being kicked off. Leading social media platforms tried to clean their newsfeed from annoying advertisement without losing money — and obviously overdid it.

New Challenges, New Options?

By the way, it is highly unlikely that this game would lead to the end of social media marketing. Even nowadays troublemaker, Lush, doesn’t close the US-oriented or local department accounts (e.g., @lush_russia is live as well as the Russian VK group with 14k+ followers). In this regard, the UK-based account’s shutdown looks like a ‘trial balloon’. But of course, taking the ‘anti-spam’ actions of the platforms into consideration makes brands to reschedule social marketing strategies.

Which trends can dominate in the nearest future?

  • Influencer marketing. It works both on social media platforms and without it, online and off-line. Influencers know what to do with the resources released from social media programs.
  • Movement from mass social platforms to the professional and locally oriented ones. For the high-tech industry, it can be SteemIt or Discord; even GitHub can be widely used as the promotional source for geeks. In Asia, the strategist shouldn’t forget about regional messengers (WeChat and Line in China, KakaoTalk in South Korea, etc.).
  • Profound correction of the strategies in the existing social media channels on Facebook or Instagram. That is the moment when less is more: not the quantity of likes but the quality of content.

Finally, it’s important to remember that social media giants can change their course one more time. The assumption that Facebook and Twitter could turn towards the brands one more time is quite realistic. Scandals would have to become a thing of the past — like pesky ‘birth trauma’ of the data-driven economy — but the profit wouldn’t.

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Farewell to Social Media or How Platforms Made Brands Desperate was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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