Since Wetherspoons Logged Out
Reflections on Wetherspoons logging out for good.
Now that the dust has settled, and the world hasn’t ended, it’s probably a good time to reflect on Wetherspoons’ decision to abandon their social media presence. The decision saw marketing influencers referring to the decision as “idiotic” whilst others said it "wouldn’t affect their customer experience at all."
There’s no doubt that from a brand perspective, to leave any social platform is a pretty significant call. A tried and tested communications method regarding global social media strategy starts with three simple questions: Why bother, where’s the core audience and can social differentiate the CX?
Why was Wetherspoons on Social Media in the first place?
One of the first social media strategy calls when a brand is in the contemplation stage is ‘Which channels should we be on, if any at all?’ Social media was once viewed as simply an add-on to a brand’s external communications, but now it’s something each company has to get right. For Wetherspoons, like many of their competitors, it’s safe to say that they initially jumped onto social to share information, gather an audience and look cool. Though these reasons aren’t wrong in and of themselves, they don’t carry any tangible sense of longevity around them.
The reasons why a brand should jump onto a social channel should without doubt be aligned to the wider brand communications strategy. If it’s a silo project, then it’s just a few social media officers shooting from the hip with no clue on where their efforts sit in the bigger brand picture. Only the Wetherspoons leaders know why they were on social in the first place, but this would be my first port of call in considering an exodus… Go back to the beginning.
Are the core Wetherspoons audience on Social Media?
This is absolutely vital, not just for social media, but for all marketing and advertising efforts. If the core Wetherspoons consumers are active social media advocates, Wetherspoons have possibly scored an embarrassing own goal. The core audience is always an organic PR team. They defend brands when mistakes are made, they celebrate the successes and they shout very loud about why they love their brand. If however, the core Wetherspoons audience isn’t active on the channels the company was using, then any content shared on those channels was just fluff in the first place.
Can Wetherspoons deliver a memorable and differentiated customer experience via Social Media?
Social media lends itself to benefits that cannot be found on any other channel of marketing, advertising and communications. If Wetherspoons customers are using a particular channel, then there is a huge opportunity for the brand to create wow moments for their audiences. Tweeting about a deal is not the same as inviting their fans to influence what deals should be made in the first place. Giving away a free pint isn’t the same as asking followers which beers they’d like to see on tap. Social media is unique in that it gathers everyone in the same space. Yes, this can result in toxic attacks. However, it is possible to change the narrative with strong and inclusive content, eventually.
If it was a knee jerk reaction, by definition, it cannot be strategic. And if their core audience are active on social media, I’m afraid to say the brand will rue this decision from a customer experience point of view. However, knowing the brand, they’ve most likely done the digging and discovered that their advocates are nowhere near the channels they’ve now quit. It’ll be fascinating to watch how this unfolds and how their competitors react.