You may have seen in the press and (ironically) on social media this week that Wetherspoons has shut down all it’s social media accounts relating to it’s Head Office and 900 outlets. Ironically I say, because they chose to announce this on Twitter to their 44,000 followers. Which is a seriously low number of followers divided between 901 (48 or 49 per account if my maths is right). No wonder they shut it down!
They stated the reason as – the economic ‘climate’, people trolling MP’s (ironic given the big man at Wetherspoons is very vocal and not too complimentary about the anti Brexit MP’s himself!) He also stated it was partly due to the fact that he hates how consumed everyone is by social media and that he doesn’t like people sitting in the pub on their phones.
Well, I might agree with that but if that IS the real reason then install internet blocking software in your pubs, because just because customers can no longer Tweet Wetherspoons, it doesn’t mean they are actually going to switch off their social media and talk to each other!
Looking at some of the back story and info surrounding this – it seems there is more to it than meets the eye. Some of their ratings are spectacularly poor on Facebook – with a 1.7* out of 5, for example. And as any brand with a Twitter account knows – many people use this as their social media of choice to complain or question a brand.
But Does That Mean You Should Come Off Social Media?
Of course not. That would be like being worried about the environment and therefore giving up your car and all public transport, and reverting to a horse and cart. The only person who is going to think that’s a good plan is the farmer who sold you the horse.
There are other ways of managing bad news apart from shooting the Messenger. And yes – people DO spend too much time on Social media, and people DO troll others on Social Media, but just not being ON social media isn’t going to make it go away – it just means you cannot be in the conversation. And personally, I think it is quite rude to the people who have bothered to follow you or interact with you in the past.
That’s a bit like ringing everyone in your address book and telling them you are going to throw your address book away. Gee thanks!
So Why Did They Do It?
I think there are 2 possible explanations.
- There is some s**t that may be about to hit a fan in the coming months re Wetherspoons and they would rather not have their social media channels open and able to be accessed by everyone to spread the news (not ALL publicity is good publicity).
- They had no idea what they were doing with their social media and how to make it work for them and instead had only negative experiences – such as the fake ‘Wetherspoons’ account which last year Tweeted that the pub chain’s staff would not be able to wear poppies on Remembrance Day while at work.
Looking at their social media, it seems they had no clue how to make it work for them. So, what should they have done instead?
Here are our TOP TIPS FOR WETHERSPOONS, should they ever choose to revisit their social media decision.
- Don’t have 900 social media accounts with 48 followers in each! Have one centralised account and one social media team to create and promote the brand identity. Any events or local promotions could be sent to the central team every week, and promoted using specific audience targeting Facebook and / or Twitter adverts.
- Create a group where your raving fans go and you offer special discounts and other offers to people in the group. Have admin control about what posts go onto that group – and also the page, so that it is a positive environment not a negative one.
- Run competitions monthly in which each outlet and their customers can take part to create fun locally and the potential for going viral.
- Have a dedicated person in Head Office whose role it is to monitor social media for negative comments, complaints and respond quickly and professionally to either resolve or block the trolls. This would need to be a 24/7 cover for a brand this big – but that’s still a lot cheaper and better use of time than someone in every outlet being responsible.
- Have the main purpose of the social media team to create quality content and engagement. There have been some great social media posts which Wetherspoons really could have leveraged more. Such as this one, with a picture of the table number “We’re at table 36 at The Bear Wetherspoons in Maidenhead. Just in case you wanted to download the app and send a drink or two ” 37 or more people sent this Tweeter a free drink using the Wetherspoons app, and some people sent ….peas Personally I think that is taking the p(ea)iss! This tweet, and the following ones with pictures of all the drinks, got hundreds of likes, shares and comments and could have been used by Wetherspoons to join in the banter and promote their innovative app (where you order from the app and the staff bring your order over. No more queuing at the bar – GENIUS). The sad thing is – not one response either on the night or after was from Wetherspoons. What a missed opportunity.
There are plenty of other tactics they could have put in place for their social media to have been a benefit to them, but they clearly did not have an over arching strategy for the brand. Or they had the wrong one!
If you are struggling to put together a strategy for your brand and create meaningful traction on social media – I hold 3 free strategy sessions a month – you can book one by clicking here.
Meanwhile, I would like to say to Wetherspoons – you can’t UNINVENT something. Just because you have thrown your toys out of the pram re: social media, doesn’t mean it is going away. If you got fed up with the internet – would you delete your website and just rely on local people walking past the pub to be your clients?
Well, that strategy worked 100 years ago, but we don’t use the same medicines that we used 100 years ago, we don’t use the same transport, we don’t use the same laws – or women wouldn’t have the vote and being anything other than straight would end you up in jail or a mental institute. So why would you go backwards in your communication strategy? Yes, it might not affect you today (largely because everyone is talking about you) but let’s see what happens in a year or five.