Wetherspoons quit social media – sense or silliness?

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    Marketing, Social Media

    In a move that has surprised many in the hospitality industry and beyond, Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin has announced that all of their pubs will be removing their presence from social media. "We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business.... I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers.  It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion."  

    So do they have a point? 

    Firstly, from a PR point of view this move makes a lot of sense.  Facebook is under scrutiny surrounding its privacy controls, and social media as a whole is facing the challenge of anonymous 'trolling', so to appear to be taking a stand against this by cutting involvement is a potentially populist course of action.  More than that, such a grand gesture has ensured that Wetherspoons has made it onto the front page of many national newspapers, people are discussing it, and social media executives like me are writing blogs about them.  That in itself has tremendous worth. From a more general business point of view, the merits are more vague.  For such a large company with so many outlets, they already have a solid customer base, and they will be doing all they can to encourage their fans to stay in touch directly with the company by joining mailing lists, reading their magazine, etc.  They can afford to pump vast sums of money into advertising on other streams, and they seem happy to focus on those.  Seemingly, they had sufficient evidence to suggest that the limited success of their social media wasn't justifying the expense.  

    What are the problems?

    For us, one of the main issues is interaction.  It's wrong to see social media as a one-way stream of promotion.  Like it or not, people will talk about a brand like Wetherspoons on social media.  By closing their profiles, Wetherspoons have ensured they can no longer be part of that discussion.  Tim Martin himself has accepted that people are spending huge amounts of time using these platforms, so in that there is a tacit acceptance that there is much potential to be tapped. What we would agree with, is that a badly maintained social media presence is not worth investment.  Wetherspoons didn't seem to have an effective overall strategy and for a company of their size, there was a surprising lack of engagement.  Unfortunately, many people who use these platforms misunderstand what each is good for and end up spreading themselves too thinly.  Despite how many of us use it on a daily basis, social media can be difficult to get right. It's also very easy to make your social media work unaccountable.  With our clients for example, we always ask for Google Analytics data so we can chart web traffic from social media sources, conversions, and understand how many leads we are getting.  We can only hope that Wetherspoons have an advanced understanding of their own metrics, and have a long-term plan.  It may well be that their social media really has been so unsuccessful that the impact on their business would be negligible, but we would say that is an issue with the quality of their feeds rather than the medium itself. It would also be a mistake to graft this sort of action from a corporate heavyweight onto a small business context.  Wetherspoons can afford vast multi-channel advertising campaigns and they know that they already have a pretty solid user base.  For many small businesses however, both within the hospitality sector and elsewhere, social media will remain as one of the most affordable and effective ways to advertise.  

    In conclusion

    From us, the message is still the same.  Social media works for business, and for small business it's invaluable.  We can cite countless examples of clients who have only continued to use our services because our work with social media has secured them paying clients and customers.  We have quantifiable metrics that prove undeniably that social media can play a big part in lead generation - one client has seen bookings increase by nearly 40%. So be vigilant and mindful in your social media use; have a strategy, and continually keep your eye on the metrics to see if it's paying off.  But stick with it.  Social media will change, but it isn't going anywhere for a while. If you need a hand formulating a strategy, or want a helping hand with your profiles, get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

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    Changes to the Facebook Feed – What it means for your business

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    Business Ideas, Marketing, Social Media

    It was recently revealed that Facebook are planning significant changes to the way content is selected for the news feed.

     

    What is happening?

    Zuckerberg says the changes will prioritise content from people 'you care about' rather than celebrities, news outlets, and perhaps worryingly from businesses.  Rather than assessing content in terms of Likes and Shares, they will begin to focus more on comments and conversations.  It will only affect the news feed on your Home page- so content posted on pages will still be visible. Although the changes have yet to occur, it seems likely that all or most non-promoted content from pages and businesses will be moved from the news feed to the separate 'Explore' feeds, while the news feed itself will focus on personal friends.  For some time, the reach of business content has been gradually reduced, but this is the most significant single change for some time.

    Why is it happening?

    Facebook claim to have noticed a reduction in organic content.  That's to say that increasingly, we have been more likely to share a funny video or a post from a news outlet rather than upload our own photos and create our own original posts. As well as that, they claim that 'passive' social media use (not just reading, but Liking and Sharing) doesn't contribute to the well-being of the user as much as active social media (posting and commenting), and being a conscientious company, they want to help address that.  Maybe. To be slightly cynical, this move will also encourage business pages to explore the Facebook advertising, in a bid to find ways of remaining in the news feed of page followers.

    What does it mean for personal users?

    Even if you have spent time following pages that interest you, the chances are you will begin to see less of their content unless you click on the 'Explore' feeds, or visit their pages individually. In theory, it will be easier for you to keep up to date with your friends' posts.  However, you can expect to see fewer well Liked and well Shared posts, and more conversations.  That means for example, that a post which was Liked and Shared by 20 of your friends may not be displayed as prominently as a post where 3 of your friends are having a debate in the comments.

    What does it mean for business users?

    It may feel a little sobering for small businesses, for whom social media is one of the most affordable and accessible ways of advertising their services, but all is not lost.  There will still be good reason to have a busy and up-to-date page - if not more reason than ever - because when your followers visit it, you want to make sure they stay. It will also mean that business content will begin to change.  Instead of popular content that may get clicks, Likes and Shares, it will be more effective to post content that invites comments and discussion, raising questions and starting debates.  This may be as simple as leaving comments below a post, and encouraging people to discuss the content.  Hopefully, there won't be too much deliberate controversy, but that could well be a side-effect of the changes. Finally, it will mean that if you don't already, it may be time to start looking at Facebook advertising.  This may seem like giving them exactly what they want, but ultimately Facebook is a hugely powerful resource that shouldn't be overlooked.  Their advertising engine is sophisticated and complex, and allows you to effectively target your exact customer profile.  Better still, although there is a sweet spot in how much you should invest, you can spend as little as £1 a day and see results.

    What can we do?

    All of us who use Facebook can now help to promote the content that we like.  That used to be as simple as Liking and Sharing, but now it will be a little more involved.  If you read a post from a page or a business you love, don't just Share or Like it - comment below, and get involved in a discussion. If you're a business, make sure your page is up-to-date and appealing to visitors, but also make sure you encourage discussion where you can.  Get involved in other people's content by leaving comments.  Discuss and debate!  Focus on content that is more likely to get a comment - for example, video is often a good place to start. Of course, we have yet to see exactly how these changes pan out, and how they affect the reach of content, but it is well worth keeping an eye on.   OK, so we know all of this can be a bit of a drain.  Keeping up to date with the tweaks made by social media giants like Facebook and Twitter is time-consuming, and you have a business to run.  Why not pass the buck and outsource your social media work?  We will make sure we navigate the changes on your behalf, getting the best reach for your content amidst ever-changing parameters.

    Contact Us  today to find out exactly what we can offer you. No annoying contracts, no catches, no commission. Just affordable and effective social media management - that's the Stargazy way.

     

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    Why outsource your social media work?

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    Business Ideas, Marketing, Social Media

    outsource (Small)

    Is there any point in trying to outsource your social media work when you can do it yourself?

    We know what it's like for a modern business. You're trying to manage a hectic workload, expand your services, and meet the demand.

    Many small businesses decide that social media is something they can do themselves. After-all, within an hour you can create your own social media profile, and then job's done, right? Maybe just sneak it onto someone's job description and they'll bob along. OK... so it turns out that someone is going to need to keep it up-to-date with relevant and engaging posts. Not just for a week or two, but permanently. Does your team have the time and the experience to make it work? At Stargazy Solutions, we believe that outsourcing your social media work is a critical step in developing your business. In our view, social media work is very easy to do badly, but hard to do well. By outsourcing this work, you will free up your time so you can focus on what you know best - your own business. But importantly, you will also put the task of social media into the hands of people who really know how it works. We are qualified professionals who are trained and experienced in social media, public relations and graphic design. Do you know which image formats work best on each platform or the best times to post to reach a certain demographic? Do you know the best balance between promotion and engagement that retains and builds a following? Don't worry - the cost implications aren't too drastic. In fact, we are confident that we offer the best value social media management in the West Country. We charge a low flat hourly rate, or have packages that start from a few pounds each week. Social media should be supplying you with a large chunk of your website's visitors, and should provide your company with a way of interacting with your clients. If it isn't pulling its weight, it's time to have a rethink.

    Contact Us  today to find out exactly what we can offer you. No annoying contracts, no catches, no commission. Just affordable and effective social media management - that's the Stargazy way.

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    Stargazy Solutions client wins Theo Paphitis business accolade

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    Business Ideas, Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized

    sbswin

    Tamar Valley Cottages scoops Theo Paphitis business accolade

    Stargazy Solutions are over the moon to announce that their entry into 'Small Business Sunday', on behalf of client Tamar Valley Cottages, was successful!

    Small Business Sunday is a fantastic initiative set up by former BBC dragon Theo Paphitis in which he selects deserving small businesses to become part of an exclusive community.  Tamar Valley Cottages is one of a handful of businesses in Cornwall to ever be given this award.

    We have long thought that Tamar Valley Cottages are getting things right, so we decided to tweet Theo about the business including a link to the website that we designed.  We were thrilled to see that he selected our post  about their business and retweeted it to his half a million followers.

    We would like to congratulate Tamar Valley Cottages for a well-deserved win.

    Small business champion and Ryman Stationery, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue Chairman, Theo Paphitis, said: “We are thrilled to welcome new #SBS members every week and highlight just how important it is to support our small businesses here in the UK. The #SBS website will also give a valuable profile to the winners chosen and I wish Tamar Valley Cottages every success.” The owner of Tamar Valley Cottages, David Wright, said: “At Tamar Valley Cottages we do our utmost to provide a boutique experience to all who visit our tranquil and beautiful surroundings. We are delighted to get this endorsement from Theo.  The result of our social media marketing which Stargazy Solutions runs for us is that bookings have substantially increased. The increase in interest has been maintained and we are also seeing an increase in repeat bookings from returning guests.” For more information about Small Business Sunday, and to find out how you can enter your own small business, click here.

    The success of Tamar Valley Cottages shows the dramatic impact that effective social media use can have for small businesses.  We can help your business achieve such greatness too.  If you fancy some of that magic, then Contact Us at your convenience - it's more affordable than you think.

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    Five Twitter followers you DON’T want

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    Social Media

    Bad Followers

    Beware!  Following is not the sincerest form of flattery.

    Effective Twitter use (and indeed all social networks) is about making connections between people with shared interests.  Do you get a little warm glow every time you gain a new follower?  Are you proud of notching up your follower base each time you find a new recruit?  We want you to ask yourself a question - is this account really interested in what you're offering?  We don't want to rain on your parade, but here are 5 types of Twitter follower that should cause you to be a little more suspicious.

    1. Unfollowers

    So someone follows you, and after a quick scout of their profile you find they have 10 times as many followers as people they are following.  If someone is being followed by 10K accounts, and they are only following 1,000 themselves, what are the odds that they really want you as a friend?  What are the chances that they have singled you out as someone they definitely want to stick with, or are really interested in connecting with you in a social way?  Unfortunately, you've come across one of the many Unfollower accounts that irritate the life out of most social media professionals.  These accounts aggressively follow hundreds of people every day, and then every so often have a massive purge, wiping out all their followers in one swoop.  If there's one sure way of alienating customers, it's by feigning interest in them by adding them, before promptly dumping them when they've followed you back.  It's terrible PR and shows a real contempt for clients.  We make a point of unfollowing and blocking any accounts that try this - there are many free tools to help you identify unfollowers, but often the initial following figure is a good indicator.


    2. Foreign accounts

    Don't worry - this isn't some xenophobic rant.  This is another simple equation.  If someone's profile is in Russian, and every tweet on their timeline is in Russian, and every reply and retweet is in Russian, do you think they're honestly interested in an English language account?  Of course, it's possible, but if there's no signs of speaking English, the chances are they are simply looking for a follow-back, and quite possibly will dump you in their next follower cull.


    3. Spam accounts

    This is a simple one.  Many spam accounts don't even bother to disguise the fact that they're spam.  They may be touting pornography, or more commonly trying to sell you followers.  Are they a potential customer or client of yours?  No.  Are they interested in what you have to say?  No.  Are they even a real account manned by a human being?  Even that is doubtful.  Steer clear, because if your following is peppered with accounts like this it tells the world you're collecting followers rather than making relevant connections.


    4. No profile

    We realise that not everyone has the time to make a beautiful profile and an eye-catching header image.  However, if someone just hasn't bothered then you could be a little wary.  It suggests they may not be using Twitter very often, if at all.  Take a quite glance down their timeline - are they posting with any kind of frequency?  Do their tweets seem genuine?  There are plenty of fake accounts created just to retweet from other accounts (sometimes just retweeting a single user), and plenty more that are simply inactive.  Save your following for real people, real accounts, and those who are using Twitter regularly in a way you can relate to.


    5. Randoms

    Social media can be a great way of spanning differences and connecting with people you may never get to interact with in your daily life or business.  But it's also a way of certain aggressive accounts using drag-net style tactics in order to get new followers.  Maybe you're an upholsterer based in Devon and you get followed by a wedding DJ from Minnesota - maybe you're a pub chef and you get followed by Dutch software design company.  It's possible that they are fascinated by what you have to offer, and look forward to your tweets, but be honest - it's more likely they just want another follower to mute or unfollow.


    Those are our top Tweeters to avoid.  Do you have another, or do you disagree?  Let us know in the comments below!

    Stargazy Solutions can help you with your social media management.  Read about our services for more information.

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    Launceston Money Advice website launched!

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    Uncategorized

    Launceston Castle We are proud to announce the launch of a website for our client Launceston Money Advice.  This great charity offers free and impartial money and debt advice to anyone that needs it. The brief was to create a simple but professional looking website that presented the key information in a clear way, and that could be viewed from a mobile device. Click below to have a look!

    Launceston Money Advice (LMAC)

    If you think we could help you with your website, please see our Web Design page or Contact Us with your requirements.    

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    Tamar Valley Cottages website launched

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    Marketing, Web Design

    IMG_0996 (Large) We are proud to announce the launch of a website for our client Tamar Valley Cottages, dog-friendly boutique self-catering cottages in North Cornwall. The brief was to create a mobile-friendly website that could be edited by their staff as and when they wanted to, and one which integrated with a new blog and their extensive social media connections.  The result is a slick, intuitive yet simple design that shows off these wonderful Cornish cottages.  Click below to have a look!

    Tamar Valley Cottages, Cornwall

    If you think we could help you with your website, please see our Web Design page or Contact Us with your requirements.    

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    The Top 10 Twitter Mistakes

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    Social Media

    Twitter Mistakes

    Twitter is seen as a free and easy social media platform.  Unfortunately, it's also easy to make some common mistakes that reduce your productivity or alienate your followers.  Here's our guide on what not to do on Twitter:

     

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    Do you have too many Twitter followers?

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    Social Media

    Who is following you?

    Many people seem to think that effective social media management is all about your number of followers.  Even some social media companies promote that concept - the more the merrier, right? It has become a status symbol - a supposed sign that you have social authority.

    So can you really have too many followers?

     

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    Welcome to Stargazy Solutions!

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    Marketing, Social Media

    Stargazy Welcome to our brand new shiny website!

    Stargazy Solutions are expanding!  Based in based in Bude, Launceston and Holsworthy, we can now offer affordable and efficient social media management, design, content creation and analytics to enterprises across the South West of the U.K.  We are confident that our prices are highly competitive, yet as our testimonials vouch we don't scrimp on quality.

    Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

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