So JD Wetherspoons, the UK’s largest pub chain, has announced that they would be deleting all their social media sites with immediate effect, after Chairman Tim Martin declared: “people spend too much time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter”.
This is a surprising move for the firm which had more than 100,000 followers on its official Facebook page, but looking a little closer, perhaps it’s not such a crazy decision…
With more than 900 pubs across the UK, JD Wetherspoons is known for its affordable alcohol and cheap meals but with such a vast network and a highly recognisable usp, you have to question whether their social media strategy was really working for them anyway.
As well as their official pages, the company hosted individual social media pages for each of their pub – pages that were run by pub managers who didn’t really understand how best to communicate with their customers through social media.
In his statement, Mr Martin declared that his pub managers were being “side tracked” by social media and that “90-to-95% felt using social media was not helping the business”.
What can other brands learn from this decision?
The reaction to the news has been immediate, with various news commentators referring to the limited engagement that the brand had achieved on social media as the ‘true’ reason behind the decision.
More proof that they weren’t perhaps getting it right.
But what will this actually mean for businesses looking ahead? Will other brands follow suit and shut down their social media channels, or will this be a move that Wetherspoons will live to regret?
Personally, we think that this is a good move for the company.
They’ve recognised that their social media strategy (if they had one) wasn’t working, so they’ve decided to simply focus their efforts on the most important element of their marketing activity – namely, face to face customer service.
What Wetherspoons has done (far from any lofty ideals in respect of privacy and MP trolling), is look at their audience and recognised that their current customers aren’t actively using the social media platforms they had a presence on, so there was no point continuing to use them.
You’ve no doubt heard the expression “flogging a dead horse” – this is more than appropriate in this instance. Why spend valuable resources (skills, time and money), continuing to follow a dead end when there are much more effective ways of marketing to your customers – in Wetherspoons’ case, via their website and corporate newsletter.
The lemming society
We are increasingly living in a society where we feel that ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is paramount (something that social media itself can take a lot of the credit for!). That if everyone else is doing something, we should be doing the same. Not only is this a lazy approach to marketing, it’s an ineffective one – you should only ever do what will get results for YOUR business and YOUR customers.
Over the last 5-10 years as social media has exploded in popularity, many businesses have jumped onto the ever-moving bandwagon without understanding exactly what they are using it for, and how to use it effectively to drive business growth.
There is a misconception that because it is free to set up a corporate Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page there are no charges incurred in implementing a successful social media strategy – but businesses need to consider the time spent managing these accounts and weigh up whether this time is being put to good use.
At Marley Bird, we often work with clients to help them define their marketing strategies and one of the first things we tell people is to firstly define who their customers are – not based on guesswork, but on actual evidence, data and understanding; before using these insights to discover how they should communicate with them.
It’s time to get selective
When used correctly, social media can be a fantastic asset. Undoubtedly it has changed the way in which many consumers interact with brands, with it now being easier than ever for consumers to ask questions, find out information and dare we say it, make complaints. But this convenience can throw up its own issues.
Corporate websites are being neglected, businesses are getting lazy and empty messages are churned out with little thought across numerous social media platforms thanks to the increasing use of automation platforms.
Too many companies are using a singular approach across all platforms without understanding the intricacies of each one, their unique features, their very different users and the varied ways in which each audience-type consumes messages within them.
For example, an extremely visual consumer-based business (such as our lovely client, MR Woodcraft) is likely to find more success on the likes of Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram – three very visual platforms actively used by those seeking inspiration for their home and garden.
Whilst a corporate b2b business dealing with high value multinational clients would do well to focus their efforts on Linkedin, than setting up a SnapChat account for example.
Social media should be approached in the same way as any strategic marketing activity. And if the shoe doesn’t fit – throw it out!
Looking ahead to the future, we believe that more companies should take a leaf out of Wetherspoons’ book and understand that sometimes, less can be more.
It’s time to stop throwing time and money over the cliff with the rest of the lemmings and instead focus on the marketing channels that will help to create real engagement with target audiences and drive real results.
If you would like an insight into the effectiveness of your marketing and social media strategies, give us a call to find out more about our consultancy and coaching services.