British cosmetics retailer Lush is leaving social media. Specifically, it is deactivating its pages on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, and has ceased asking its customers to interact with its content on Twitter and YouTube.
The unconventional move comes after The Wall Street Journal published The Facebook Files: A Wall Street Journal Investigation, including internal files that allege the company was aware of the harm its algorithm could cause, such as fuelling misinformation, conspiracy theories and negatively affecting the mental health of teenagers.
In North America, Lush had 1.2 million followers on Facebook; 4 million followers on Instagram; and 41,000 followers on TikTok.
"Facebook and Instagram were our biggest channels and we were actively using these on a daily basis,” said Wendy Kubota, Lush’s brand director for North America.
Kubota talked with PRWeek about how the company will connect with consumers going forward.
How did Lush decide to deactivate all of its Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat accounts? What was the internal conversation there?
Concerns have been building for some years, with many industry insiders who helped develop and build these technologies gradually seeing that their work was causing more harm than good, and they started to voice their concerns.
We at Lush don’t want to wait for better worldwide regulations, or for the platforms to introduce best practice guidelines, while a generation of young people are growing up experiencing serious and lasting harm. Now is the right time to find better ways to connect without putting our customers in harm’s way.
Have those channels not been effective comms tools for Lush?
This decision is a result of deciding to take a stand against the serious effects that social media has on consumers, which aren’t being acknowledged. We believe that tech should be built for the greater good and impact positive social change, and have campaigned for this over the years.
We obviously have an audience of 4 million on Instagram for example, but we’ve never paid to play in that space so It’s difficult to get the growth you’d hope for out of it. We are excited however to do everything we can creatively to make sure our customers can find us and chat to us, just not in spaces that don’t have their best interests at heart. It is a risk from a commercial standpoint, no doubt, but we’re making a decision that is people over profit. Our products are designed for well being, we want to look after people, so we have to stand by that and not allow these tools to dictate the way we will engage with our customers.
How many people worked on your social media channels? What is happening to their jobs?
We will still need social media content, but just refocusing on different channels. The change won’t have much impact on digital marketing budgets as we focus on content creation, which is used across platforms. We will repurpose where that content lives, but we weren’t doing paid social anyway, so we won’t be moving or losing budget there. We also don’t partake in any traditional paid advertising, and haven’t since Lush was established over 25 years ago. We don’t see this changing any time soon. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen our communications, events and partnership teams.
Without those channels, how will Lush reach consumers?
Lush will be working to build better channels of communication elsewhere, as well as using tried and tested routes. The good thing about digital landscapes anyway is that they are always evolving, there’s other platforms and other tools out there. The internet is a big space where we will be able to find ways of engaging with our customers that doesn’t include those channels.
For now, Lush can still be found on Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, as well as our own digital estate, such as website and apps. To keep up-to-date and be the first to know about further Lush announcements, subscribe to the newsletter.
Why did you decide to stay on Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest?
Our plan is to come off the platforms that have chosen to ignore their own evidence, but we will return if they make their spaces safe. For platforms that have acknowledged there are problems and promise to change, we will currently bear with them and continue to use their services in the expectation that improvements are coming.