Back in November 2009, my boss at the time, Martin Driver, had a lightbulb moment.
He’d been pondering the problem of getting travel alerts out to people in a sensible manner, when he hit upon the idea of using that Twitter thing. Over eight years, 22,000 followers and 108,000 tweets later it’s still going strong.
Real-time information about where your bus or train is only goes so far; sometimes you also need to know the cause of any delays so you can plan to avoid them. Twitter was, and remains, perfectly suited to travel alerts. It can also be used for ‘engagement’, when people have specific questions but can’t bring themselves to call MetroLine. I was proud to have been involved with @MetroTravelNews in its early days and in the years following, when it broadened out to include links to our news and product offers.
If you’re in Leeds Station and you’re waiting for a train (delayed, cancelled or otherwise) you can do so in the comfort of a Wetherspoons.
Wetherspoons has no need to tell patrons what guest beers are available, what offers they’re running on food, what the opening times are or if there’s a queue at the bar. You can’t reserve a table, and they have no need to ‘engage’ with customers who aren’t actually in the pub. They sell cheap beers and cheap food, so they don’t need to drum up trade through social media. That would also explain the low number of followers they have.
You turn up, have a drink and go away again. They’re the vintner equivalent of the kebab shop you go to after an evening drinking at a Wetherspoons. Kebab shops, too, tend not to be on social media.
And so, actually, I think Tim Martin does have a point (although he does hide that point well in suggesting that he’s doing this for our own good).
Why invest time and effort on a communications channel that doesn’t bring in business? Your tactics and actions should be based on your objectives and strategy. Being on a platform “because everyone else is” is the wrong choice.
The best way for a Wetherspoons pub to advertise to passing trade is with an A-frame outside; and the best way to advertise to a captive audience inside is with the beermats. They won’t miss social media – and I suspect that social media will not miss them, either.