Oh Wetherspoons… Don’t give up. Be the brand that social needs right now.
There is a lot of news in the news right now. Catching up isn’t a 5-minute scroll through the BBC app before you start your day any more. It’s a full blown mission. But even in today’s incredibly newsy times, Wetherspoons’ announcement that they’re quitting social media stands out.
It’s a bold move. Apparently they’re uncomfortable with the way social media platforms are used by some to bully and intimidate, and no longer wish to be associated with that – plus Chairman Tim Martin believes that the value of social media to a business is overhyped and his staff would be more usefully employed serving customers than managing social feeds.
To the very last point, he’s probably right. Without very strong central guidance and a robust content strategy, it can be difficult for businesses like Wetherspoons to achieve a consistent presence and gain any significant traction across social media channels. I imagine that aligning the content and voice of 900 sites to a national message while making sure it serves each site’s local needs is a bit like herding kittens – especially when your local channels are managed not by community experts but landlords and their teams, with varying degrees of social media nous. We’re in the process of delivering local social media guidance for a client that operates on a national franchised basis to address this very issue – without these kinds of tools in place, things can quickly become inconsistent, fragmented and detrimental to the master brand.
But just because it’s difficult, should you give up? I guess that depends on the value of social channels to your business. Martin’s view that social media adds nothing to his is based on his experience of a very fragmented social media landscape where nothing much gains traction. So he’s probably right again, when he says he won’t lose anything by pulling out of the channels.
But it’s not just about what you stand to lose. What about what you could gain, by simplifying that landscape and developing a devolved but structured social media framework that local sites could quickly and easily support? What if social media didn’t take up hours of a landlord’s time, because he or she received clearer central guidance, and tools? Do all local sites even need a presence across all channels? Would an audit and rationalisation have solved their problems, rather than an across-the-board cull?
I guess Martin’s ultimately not interested, because of his problems with the channels themselves. But that right there is an opportunity for the brand. I agree with him. Social media can be a hotbed of horror at times, especially in these newsiest of newsy times. But again, don’t give up. Fight for change. Let the role of Wetherspoons in social channels be one of relentless positivity. Let their platforms be a safe place, and let their content strategy be driven by joy. Warm, welcoming, happy. The place you go to, to get away from it all. You know – a bit like your local pub… 😉 Be as distinctive as those wonderful carpets.
I can’t help but think Wetherspoons have missed a trick.