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Offline vs online: Does your business really need social media?

For nearly two years now, cosmetic company LUSH has been off social media, an unusual status in the world of business where platforms like TikTok and Instagram have become so essential for majority of companies. Now, nearly two years since their decision to go offline, LUSH takes a look at their decision and how they are going to continue forward.

Every now and then, the thought of a social media pause goes through the mind of nearly every user of the digital landscape.

For many users, social media has become a place of endless happenings, whether good or bad.

November 2021 saw the cosmetic company, LUSH step away from social media after expressing concern over the safety online and the belief that “technology should give more than it takes”.

Their decision to leave social media has led the brand to look back at their entire business and how they will continue to connect with their consumers.

“We’ve spent a lot of time getting back to our campaigning roots by engaging with issues that our communities care about the most,” says Jay Jennings, General Manager of Digital at LUSH ANZ.

But another way to continue connected with the digital landscape was through their commissioned report ‘Digital Engagement: A Social Future’ with Future Laboratory.

“This report opened our eyes to the fragmented nature of digital culture and how it feeds into your life, which has spurred us on to continue our advocacy work in this space and to prioritise small tech organisations with values that match our own,” adds Jennings.

And their decision to step away from social media could not come at the most perfect time.

The report reveals that during the past 18 months while the company has stepped away from social media, people are spending less time online.

Surveying 12,000 consumers across the world on their digital habits, needs, wants, desires and their views, the report shows more and more users partake in real world connections, supporting LUSH’s decision to leave.

Thirty-five percent of Meta users, 22 percent of BeReal users and 18 percent of TikTok users are using these platforms less frequently than a year ago.

Read more: New Zealand brands that ‘slay’ on TikTok

Seven in 10 adults across the UK, US and Japan believe that if a social media platform is unethical, brands should step away from it.

Over half of respondents say that big brands and corporations dominate technology and online culture and they think these companies should have less control online.

Seventy percent of respondents are worried about their safety online and are calling for global legislation on their digital experiences, with Gen Z users in specific saying that many groups are marginalised or ignored in digital spaces.

And this is similar to LUSH’s biggest concern with social media, the power the big brands have in manipulating the conversation.

Jay Jennings.

Looking back, Jennings says that when they first decided to go offline over the concerns of safety in the digital landscape, 18 months later this is still their main catalyst to remain off social media.

“We are inherently a wellness brand with a purpose to support the wellbeing of our customers and our planet,” says Jennings.

“Unfortunately, in their current state, many social media platforms conflict with this mission and we will continue to distance ourselves from these platforms until we see a change.”

Taking a look at the report, Jennings says there is still so much potential and improvement that needs to be made for every single user to have a secure and nurturing digital environment.

“It’s time to shift the conversation from focusing on what seems impossible to exploring the endless possibilities that lie ahead,” adds Jennings.

“We believe that social media has the power to drive positive change and connect people. However, to get to this point it’s important that users reclaim the power and take responsibility for their online interactions.”

As a leader of an ethical digital world, LUSH is welcoming discussions with tech giants to improve user safety, with the cosmetic company in frequent communication with platforms like Pinterest.

Though they currently offline, the team at LUSH are optimistic about the future of what the digital world is going to look like and over the past 18 months, they have seen encouraging progress.

“We believe that more needs to be done to address the root causes of these issues, such as the algorithms that prioritise engagement over user safety,” Jennings says.

“These are deep-seated ssues which will not be fixed overnight, but we plan to continue lending our voice and our resources to the challenge wherever possible.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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