Detox only will not be enough


Cosmetics giant “Lush” has announced beginning of April that it will cancel its accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The decision currently encompasses only the accounts that were made for the UK market. The press release stated, among other things: “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 numerous followers (570K from Instagram, 200k Twitter and around 400k on Facebook) were promised to receive further information and communication from Lush through the email, the phone and the live chat at the company’s webpage.

The company that has become known, among others, for its “bath bombs” has dropped an unexpected media-marketing bomb on the scene. We are not fully aware of a particular event or some other reason that would be a cause for such a shift, except for what was announced in the press release, but the key argument brought forward with the announcement remains undefeated. If algorithms were used in the beginning to improve profiling of the social media users and to offer more relevant content, increasing the time spent on a social media platform – the rapidly changing algorithms today are making it harder from those who are trying to reach potential customers with its commercial content.

Thanks to the change in how consumers are accessed, social media is increasingly starting to look like a traditional media outlet, creating strategies and employing tactics to increase the price for the larger audience available. The increase in the organic reach of a platform through common availability of internet on a global scale, and more accessibly prices devices to log onto the social media platforms has enabled record breaking profits for the holding companies. This additional trick up their sleeve, that contemporary media platforms are using makes advertisers pay more and more to be able to promote their product/service information to the consumers.

The money logics and the hunger for the increase of profits is turning out to be quite insatiable. If advertisers were to play into this policy of new age media giants and use an old tool such as “bulk discounts” or something ingeniously similar fighting for a lower price, the battle was over before it began. None of the existing global networks that transformed their business into becoming advertisement platforms will bat an eyelash on such an attempt. This is simply because they come from the position of power, having a virtually unlimited number of potential advertisers and more sophisticated algorithms enabling a widespread offer for a product being sold and offered on the basis “There is a little something for everyone here”.

By cancelling the accounts, Lush is not leaving social media networks. To the contrary! When the heated debate about withdrawing from mainstream platforms is over, in a hot minute, the social media will still remain one of their main communication outlets. Distribution of the content through social media will be taken over by the users themselves. This means that the nature of the content and the intensity of distribution through the available channels will become dependent on the user experience. The primary focus of the Lush marketing team has to become curating the type of experience that customers will want to share, instead of increasing the number of followers at all costs while collecting and counting likes.

Easier said, than done. It is always like this when a new model of marketing communication is being construed. Traditional model places the product and its characteristics in the center, announcing the price at the very end. The consumer of the media content is a passive recipient expected to receive the information and buy the offered product. The new model places the recipient in the center, with the communication focusing on the message and the story that a consumer can relate to and wishes to be a part of, becoming a brand ambassador. For this scenario to happen, the story has to push all the right buttons.   

For the story to create a narrative and trigger a conversation, it needs to be more than just a good story: it has to be the right story. To fully grasp the nuanced difference, author of several fantastic books on storytelling, Bernadette Jiwa, outlines a few criteria:

  • A good story chronicles events; a great story invests people in the outcome.
  • A good story informs; a great story moves people.
  • A good story changes how we think; a great story changes how we feel and what we do.

It remains to be seen whether this new phase of the marketing communication will see Lush reaching for good or right stories. The good news is that Lush is not the only one aware of the dire need to change the strategy for the marketing communication. At the same time that Lush made the eponymous announcement, news of UniCredit bank in Serbia withdrawing from Facebook, Messenger and Instagram starting 1 June 2019 have emerged. This falls into place with the bank’s previous announcement from last year to withdraw from Facebook globally.

It will be very interesting to keep up with the trend and test whether this movement is a one-second wonder, or the social media detox is announcing a tectonic shift in marketing communication. If the latter proves to be the truth, detoxication is just the beginning…

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