Post Lush: Why brands should remain on social

Lush followed Wetherspoons in quitting social media last week. Stephen Waddington asks what’s the point of social media if it isn’t brand building and customer service?

#1 Planning as part of the marketing funnel
The media channels a brand uses to share its content should be based on where its audience [consumes content]. Social media is often a key element in that mix. Your marketing goals will then determine the types of content you distribute through these channels.

Solomon Radley, content editor, Raconteur

#2 Listening to conversations
Listening and analysis.

James Whatley, strategy partner, Digitas UK

#3 Private conversations on private channels
The use of social media is changing from public channels to private groups. Lush no longer wants to play the algorithm game, and that it no longer wants to pay to reach its own fans. A lot of marketers and brands feel the same; increasing effort for diminishing returns.

Paul Sutton, independent social media and marketing consultant

#4 Purpose and channel clarity
I think the problem is the lack of clarity around the purpose of the channel. It isn’t always brand building, it can be customer service, or it can be about a bigger purpose for the organisation. Also, we should review all our channels and if it isn’t working against the objectives then why not turn it off?

Jenni Field, director, Refining Communications

#5 Influencers: playing a different social media game
Expect to see more user generated and influencer content. This content sits on the influencers' and advocates' newsfeeds.

Scott Guthrie, independent marketing consultant

#6 Social media as a crisis communications tool
I’d be surprised if [an organisation didn’t use] Twitter for communication if a crisis broke and they needed to issue a public statement. It’s a statement of their purpose and desire to connect to communities directly.

Justine Bower, director of communications, UKTV

#7 Algorithms don’t throttle real conversations
The algorithms don’t get in the way of a person communicating with you via social if they want to. People will talk about your brand on social if you’re there or not. [It’s] up to you if you want to join the conversation. But you need quality not quantity.

Lauren East, social media manager, Wessex Water

#8 Social as a customer service tool
Surely social is a significant customer service channel for those who can’t or won’t phone or go into a branch? Refusing to serve customers in the space they choose seems unhelpful.

Ruth Fry, corporate communications manager, Perth and Kinross Council

Much of O2's success in social came from having a solid customer service presence on social, which developed in to a critical part of how the brand played out on social. Good customer service gave us the permission to be brand marketers on the same platforms.

Paul Fabretti, director of communication, Microsoft

#9 Return to communities
Closing corporate profiles but still planning to share content using a hashtag is a logical progression for community purists: literally handing the brand conversation over to the community. I imagine employees will ramp up engagement on social media – so instead of the corporate accounts making announcements, news would come direct from team members.

Jemima Gibbons, head of engagement, Design Club

#10 Public service information
I work in police communication and would love to turn off social media. Every day we see a constant flow of hate fuelled Tweets. It’s worse since Brexit and the events of 2017. Sadly, I don't see turning [it off a] realistic option though.

Matthew Woodhouse, media relations manager, British Transport Police

Written by Stephen Waddington, managing director of Metia; and visiting professor, Newcastle University.

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