Wetherspoons And The Dawn Of A New Social Era

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

Being open and honest is key to success in business. So, to start this article, I’m going to be open and honest with you. I love Wetherspoons! There’s no deep cultural reason for this or any moral objection I have against the new wave of craft beer bars, but quite simply, sitting in Wetherspoons makes me happy. One of the purest pleasures in life is sitting in one of their many establishments, drinking heavily discounted beer, nibbling on their above-average cuisine whilst shooting the shit with one of my high school friends. So, you can imagine as a social media man how quickly my ears pricked up when I heard that Wetherspoons were deleting all of their social accounts.


Bye Bye Wetherspoons


The founder of Wetherspoon’s has put this decision down to a few reasons. The main factor stated is that they don’t believe they receive enough value from social media in relation to the amount of time and effort their staff put into it. Tim Martin stated;


“The power of social media is all a bit of marketing hype.”


On top of this, he referenced the trolling of MPs across social media as well as the scandal surrounding misuse of private data as other reasons behind the decision. Straight off the bat, this move has been criticised as a bad decision. The consensus across the world of marketing for the last few years has been that if you want your brand to succeed you must have a social media presence.  I support this notion, there is so much for brands to be gained from social media. A personal brand image can be crafted, customers can be easily connected with and it is a lot more cost-effective than traditional forms of marketing. So from that perspective, a big thumbs up for social media.


Black and White Mark Zuckerberg


Furthermore, it certainly seems like Wetherspoons are jumping on the bandwagon of criticising social media. The tagging on of political issues seems like it has been thrown in there just for good measure. The relevance isn’t really that clear and I very much believe this was an attempt from Wetherspoons to gain as much exposure out of the announcement as possible (sorry for criticism Spoons, please don’t ban me from your beer and a burger deal). Having said that, the point they lead with is what really interested me. Within the announcement that they didn’t believe they were getting value from social media, their future plan involved pushing out company updates through their app. It’s the inclusion of their app within the future marketing strategy which makes me think, this isn’t necessarily a terrible idea after all.


A Different Form of Digital


For those of you have never experienced the Wetherspoons app, it’s actually pretty unique. The app allows you to order food and drinks right to your table without going to the bar. It contains menus, information about the pubs and the previously mentioned company updates. On top of this, the app is very well built and user-friendly. What Wetherspoons have here is an app with a practical reason to download. Many brands who have apps don’t have this benefit and therefore don’t grab the attention of the audience the way that the Wetherspoons app has the ability to do. Therefore, if like the company is reporting, their social media accounts really were ineffective, pushing more focus onto a platform where they know they can capture the imagination of their audience makes a lot of sense.

From a wider marketing perspective, this may be signalling a change in the industry. We have already seen Elon Musk delete the Tesla and SpaceX Facebook accounts. Yes, this has come amongst the wave of mild Facebook backlash, however, what it is showing is that many companies are starting to believe that their social value isn’t that high. But looking even deeper, what this shows is not just concerns about their social value, but concerns about the value of the messages they are putting out. Although on the surface this may look like a decline for social media, it could actually be a huge benefit for content creators.


Tesla Motors banner


In the last few months, Twitter announced a new set of rules and guidelines that are aimed to reduce spam across the platform. These rules mean that accounts publishing duplicate content will get blocked, amongst other measures. This means the amount of content being published on Twitter will be streamlined. This follows on from Facebook’s drive over the last year to reduce the amount of clickbait and increase the amount of quality content on their platform. Although marketers have complained about the Facebook algorithms restraining the marketing efforts, what these developments actually mean for marketers is that you just have to be better.


A Wave Of Social Opportunities


If you are complaining that your content is getting blocked by a spam filter then you need to take a look at the content you are putting out there. Marketing managers need to realise that quality is being prioritised, and too right it should be! Social media isn’t dying out, it’s just trying to increase its production value. More entertaining and informative information needs to be shared, well shot and edited video produced and valid, balanced opinions put forward. Companies like Wetherspoons leaving Twitter isn’t bad for others brands, its an opportunity to step up and deliver content that the audience actually wants to see and thrive in a social space that is less cluttered than before.

As Little Finger famously declared in Game of Thrones, ‘chaos isn’t a pit, it’s a ladder’. Ok he fell to his demise, got done in and turned out to be wrong in his assertions, but maybe what he was saying wasn’t about who would sit on the Iron Throne, but was actually pre-empting Wetherspoons leaving social media. The chaos of big brands leaving and platforms changing their algorithms that marketers are worried about definitely isn’t a pit that’s going to lead to social’s demise, it’s actually a ladder to greater marketing opportunities. If this trend continues, social media will become streamlined. Brands who have a captivating message and are willing to throw creative flair and resources into it will climb the ladder and see all the benefits social media marketing has to offer. Who would have known when it came to digital marketing, Little Finger was the man to listen to?


I always knew there was a reason I loved Wetherspoons.