It’s somewhat ironic that JD Wetherspoon quitting social media actually got them trending on Twitter.
That one big statement raised their online profile but chairman Tim Martin’s decision to ditch all his channels proves it’s too late for him to be convinced of the benefits of social media for business.
It’s a decision very few involved in marketing technology would be likely to follow. After all, a cohesive social media strategy is one of the key ways to bring new business to the top of the sales funnel.
And let’s be honest, if you’re a hi-tech business whose technology marketing strategy doesn’t involve social media, you’ll look like you’re barely even current – never mind at the cutting edge.
Those aren’t concerns for JD Wetherspoon, where getting people through the door has never been a problem – its prices do that.
Some commentators have been saying the low engagement with the main JD Wetherspoon account – and the hundreds of others run by individual pubs – exposes the lack of value in businesses running social media accounts.
Another way to look at it is that the chain wasn’t getting its online offering right, otherwise there would have been the interaction that keeps an audience engaged.
For instance, a tweet about their Good Friday offer on fish’n’chips got just three retweets. When you’re looking for mass engagement, that’s not acceptable. But maybe instead of quitting social media, they could have addressed the problems they were having with it.
You’ve also got to look at what JD Wetherspoon does: it sells beer and food in pubs without music at a knockdown price.
People know what they’re getting when they go to a JD Wetherspoon’s pub. If it’s Tuesday, it’s steak night; if it’s Thursday, it’s curry night. The beer’s decent, the service is sharp and the atmosphere … well, you bring that with you.
Make your margins
And when you have to keep running costs low so you can make your margins, it makes sense to stop pub managers spending the “two to three hours a day” attending to social media that Tim Martin claims.
But what if your offering isn’t so clear cut? What if you have goods or services that have to be searched for, on Google perhaps?
If you get your search engine optimisation right, those social media accounts will help you fill out that crucial first page of Google when someone hunts for you, wiping potential rivals out of the equation.
The value of those channels is that they allow you to communicate directly to an audience who have chosen to follow you. In business-to-business terms, LinkedIn is particularly valuable here.
And remember, on social media there’s no curation, no editorial spin. It’s the messages you choose to give about your products and services that get through.
Good shareable content
If you’re producing good, shareable content – in the form of engaging and informative blogs, white papers, infographics and so on – that extends your reach and exposes you to new potential clients.
The demand for your products may never reach the levels of the demand for cheap booze, but social media allows you to gear up your technology marketing strategy to maximise your exposure to an engaged audience.
One thing Tim Martin has got right is the value of getting proper news coverage. He said he’d rather have a 200-word story somewhere like the Sun than keep up Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Having content featured where your clientele is looking is the goal of good PR.
The irony is that newspapers are increasingly news websites and they rely on social media shares to drive traffic to those sites.
So whether JD Wetherspoon is tweeting or not, it will get the benefit – although its control over its brand message is diminished. And that control is one of the biggest benefits of social media for business.
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