Is social media ruining the UK's pub culture?

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Image power: it can be beneficial to encourage customers to take photos and share them
Image power: it can be beneficial to encourage customers to take photos and share them

Related tags Social media Public house

Millennials are drinking less than any other age group and licensees have put the blame on social media, but is this really the case?

Research from the Office of National Statistics last week revealed those aged 16 to 24 in Great Britain were less likely to drink than any other age group.

Social media in numbers

5pm - the best time to post on social media for users to see and act on it

25 to 34 - is the most common age group on Facebook (26% of users)

50% - of UK social media users use a mobile device to access social media

In the UK alone, there are around 31m Facebook users and, by 2018, the number of UK residents expected to be on social media will reach a staggering 36.4m.

Kevin Abbott, licensee at the Anchor in Wingham, Kent, claimed his clientele were more "mature" as a result of social media.

He explained: “Our client base in the pub is 30s and over, we hardly get anyone in their 20s come in.

“The Saturday night with loads of young people has gone now. People are making their own entertainment, and social media does have quite a lot to do with it.”

However, Abbott added that attracting an older crowd does have its benefits, especially when it comes to licensing matters.

Benefits of social media

Social media stats: 

64% - of regular Instagram users are female

36.4bn - the estimated number of UK residents that will be on social media in 2018

56% - of regular Facebook users are female

He added: “While we miss out on the younger drinkers, in some ways, we quite like being a mature pub and the mature people who come in here like it too.

“We never have to ID anyone because they are so obviously over 18.”

But, Abbott admitted that social media is an good tool for small businesses to advertising events for free and interact with the local community.

He said: “We run a Facebook group and use Facebook for a lot of events and it does help.

“We have got a fantastic Wingham village group, which includes our prime people who we want to tell when we have something going on.”

Karen Errington, licensee of Top 50 Gastropub the Rat Inn in Alnwick, Northumberland, echoed Abbott’s comments, saying social media can aid pubs in raising their profile without going down the route of expensive advertising campaigns.

She said: “Social media is massively important for us because as a small, independent business, we don’t have a PR company or advertising budget.”

She also outlined how social media impacts the drinkers in her pub but highlighted that health is a bigger contributing factor as to why Millennials are going out less.

Health-conscious Millennials

Twitter figures

18% - percentage of extra clicks gained by Tweets with images compared to those without pictures

23 - number of times Tweets are more likely to be retweeted if you ask for it by using the term 'retweeted'

15m - number of UK users of Twitter

She added: “Going to the gym and restricting the amount they drink is their lifestyle now, which is all about image.

“Instagram especially is all about image and people are very much image conscious now, which wasn’t a thing when I was young.”

The Ebrington Arms in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, is very active on social media and it uses various platforms to advertise events, food and more.

Licensee Claire Alexander said Millennials not using pubs was “really sad and they don’t know what they are missing out on”.

She added: “With everyone talking about anxiety and social isolation, pubs are more important than ever.

“Young people should be out more so they excel in a social environment, it really helps with jobs and relationships.”

Social media is something pubs need to seriously consider, Alexander said: “We use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and pubs need them all – for inspiration to visit us, to stay in our rooms and make their mouths water.”

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