by Paula on November 19, 2010

The Kings Head, Wells

Social Media is without doubt one of the hot business topics right now and if you browse the internet, or read the latest business journals, it seems everyone has an opinion on what to do, how to do it and how much value it has. For the most part though, there are real businesses out there, like yours, who are trying to wade through all this information and opinion and work out whether it’s something for you and how that might work in practice.
Earlier this week I wrote about the Social Media approach of two big companies: Nokia and Ford, and give a little insight into the values and angle of their Social Media marketing. While interesting reading, it’s easy to look at these huge companies and think “It’s different for them!” So today I am featuring a business a little bit closer to home, and one that most of us can relate to.
Yesterday I interviewed Steve Wilson, Landlord of The Kings Head pub in Wells, Somerset about his use of Social Media and how it’s working for him. Here is the first of two blogs sharing his learning, his passion and his enthusiasm as he explores the “no brainer” of Social Media to reach out to his audience and promote his business.
I started by asking Steve how long he has been aware of and using Social Media and which networks he’s currently using.
Steve has had a website for 2 years but this is currently being re-built as he is in the process of making it more dynamic, fresh and easier to update in order that it can be the central focus of his Social Media activity. Steve said “Like most pubs, it was ‘there just to be seen to be there’ rather than being used actively“. He now wants to make use of this website to reach out to his clients and connect and will use it to inform and update his customers regularly with exciting new content: Watch this space! 
Steve has a personal profile with over 800 connections. A fantastic audience that are already there and prepared to listen to what he has to say. Steve is now looking at getting his Business Fan Page set up in order to be able to communicate directly with them and encourage that huge band of followers, away from the computer screen and into his pub! With Facebook currently being the number one most visited site on the net, and people chatting about where to go out for a drink, there is no better place to reach out and say ‘Hey, have you seen what we’re up to tonight?’!
Steve has recently got going on Twitter and uses it perfectly. It is all about him as a character, as a landlord, and not a replacement for business advertising. Sure he references the pub sometimes, it is his life, but he does so with humour, with personality, and people who follow him are attracted to this attitude and as such relationships develop, and those people turn up at the bar! Steve is very clear that any publican looking to set themselves up on Twitter should follow his lead and make it personal. Steve said:
 “I’d definitely recommend having a personal presence for the licensee rather than a pub presence. I could be wrong on this, as many people do seem to be on Twitter as businesses rather than people, but I’ve very quickly learnt to ignore the businesses on Twitter, they are, to be blunt, boring! If I had a sudden need for a particular service I might follow a few relevant businesses for a while but why do I want my timeline crammed with business announcements all day long? As an example – I’ve just made a small order with an office supplies company based on Twitter; I could have chosen any of around 10 who have followed me so far but the one I picked was just a guy who I didn’t even realise was working in an office supplies company until he tweeted to somebody else. In other words, he was a real person I ‘got to know’ before placing an order. So I’m judging it on the way I use it myself.
I’ve talked previously about how important it is to have a strategy and a plan. Venturing into Social Media with a clear idea of what you hope to achieve with it means your activity can have much more value and focus. I asked Steve if he had any particular goals in mind that he feels Social Media will help him achieve.
Steve put forward 4 main points that are the drive behind his Social Media activity. In his words, his main goals are:

• Improving image of the pub by having a presence on all the main sites (even if it’s as the landlord rather than the pub).

• Making it much easier to interact with local customers (e.g. posting an event to my 800 ‘friends’ on Facebook is infinitely easier than trying to get the message out to all those people in other ways)!

• Getting the pub name known in the virtual world so it hits a much wider audience than I could ever hope to reach in other ways (e.g. we’re a tourist town, so it’s the only way I could ever hope to grab tourist’s attention before they visit, and put us front of their minds)

• Probably most importantly (hence why ‘imstevewilson‘ is used instead of ‘kingshead’), forming a link between the pub and me, to make it much more personal

In tomorrow’s blog we look at which Social Networks are working best for Steve and why, and I’ll also give some examples of specific successes Steve has recently had that can be attributed directly to his Social Media activity.

Cheers All! 


Nick Chinn November 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

great to hear about the experiences of a real sized company…good work, thanks. N

Steve Wilson November 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Joanna – I kind of agree with you! I think everyone should do whatever they feel is best for their particular situation and personality, because that’s the only way they’ll get the best results out of social media. If it doesn’t feel right for them then they won’t engage properly.

But I just can’t help thinking there’s something not quite right with a business profile on Twitter? It’s the ultimate social site, where you live or die by the 140-character sword! Facebook separate their usage between personal profiles and business pages, because they have a lot more flexibility with the way their site is used and the groups who use it; that’s why I have a profile as the pub on Facebook. But Twitter doesn’t have that luxury?

I view it like this; if you had to compare Facebook and Twitter to the ‘real’ world, Facebook would be a convention where there’s lots of different halls and different things going on, but Twitter would be a house party! For one event, you can dress yourself dependant on the reason you’re visiting and what you want to get out of it (Facebook), but for the other, it’s all down to personality…

The way I see it, if you’re going to post personal replies (such as jokes, witty comments, direct answers or generally engaging with people) then surely it’s better to do that as a person? Why wouldn’t you? But, on the other hand, if you’re simply going to post business stuff, won’t this become stale very quickly? How long would you talk to someone at a party if they done this? You might get some loyal followers (IE. people who are already your customers and already have a connection with you), or lots of other business followers, but who outside of these groups would actually make a conscious decision to start following you?

I see it so often on Twitter (even in my short 6 weeks of being a Twitterer) that it’s already put me off following businesses, so I’m judging it on my own experience as a user of Twitter. I just don’t see Twitter as the right media for that sort of direct marketing? If a business owner isn’t comfortable with it then there are plenty of ways to get around this, by using a member of staff who is comfortable with it, or by using a media manager such as Paula (or both)?

Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it; I could be proved wrong, as lots of businesses do seem to be active on Twitter, but it doesn’t seem to be doing me any harm yet :o)

Tony November 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Actually, I agree with Steve. I have always thought that its the landlord that sets the character of the pub. Chains are great when you are in a town you don’t know but if a local looses a great landlord then the atmosphere can change overnight. Busy pubs are ones where people bump into friends without arranging it.

Joanna November 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

This is a very interesting interview. It’s good to see pubs doing great things with communication I am sure it is the way forward for them. However I would take issue with one point. I think a pub can very easily communicate as a business – they already have a strong identity in the pub name and sign and many people are already loyal to a local. If the landlord doesn’t want a personal profile on view a corporate one works equally well. Even a chain with great customer service can do it effectively – Geronimo Pubs are an excellent example!

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