Community Not Commodity: Has Social Media Marketing Lost Its Way?

When Lush decided to step away from social media, people thought they were crazy.


But increasingly, others are adapting their approach or following suit.


Here’s why…

Tim Marshall

Why Lush Withdrew from Social Media


Everyone and their dog these days has a website and a whole host of social media accounts (including us!).


But as the digital arena reaches saturation point, are we shooting ourselves in the foot by continuing to vomit our content at our target audience? Is social media really the best consumer engagement tool we have in our arsenal? Not everyone thinks so…


Earlier this year, Lush shocked us all by deciding to withdraw from social media.


As Rachel Whittaker, Founder and Director at Indie Beauty Delivers, observed:


“With 569k followers on Instagram alone and over 1million across Insta, Twitter and Facebook the suggestion they would be shutting down their accounts appeared, well, ludicrous!”

But Lush wanted to build a community, and instead wanted to focus on user generated content and building their business foundations on platforms they actually own (e.g. calls, emails, webchats).


There are certainly risks in withdrawing completely from social media e.g. losing control of their message through user generated content, and relying on influencers to do their marketing for them.


However, others are increasingly also trying to take a fresh approach and focus their digital marketing on building a community, rather than followers.


Other Brands Re-Thinking Social Media


Only last week, beauty entrepreneur Charlotte Cho (founder of skincare company Then I Met You) announced she’s decided her company was going to spend zero dollars on social media advertising.


Her marketing budget is instead focusing on real experiences and building a community. As she said:

“I want to build a community, not buy one.”

Her view is that paid social media ads are not an authentic way to grow a business.


It’s all very well having huge follower numbers, but how engaged, really, are those people?

Recently influencer Arii failed to sell 36 t-shirts - despite having 2 million followers online.


So, are consumers increasingly savvy when it comes to social media marketing? It would appear so. Brands like Lego are stepping away from social media as a pure sales and marketing platform, and instead utilising it for social commerce, to purchase items discussed on social media, but not necessarily advertised there.


What is your brand’s take on social media marketing? Is it an increasingly small or large proportion of your overall budget? What other, novel, digital marketing strategies do you think are proving more effective?


Email us your thoughts.


Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash