All you need to know about #WetherbyHour
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 July 2016
It's been Joanne Maltby's ambition to help give her hometown of Wetherby in West Yorkshire a higher profile. She created #wetherbyhour on Twitter, a regular hour-long, online networking session that supports and brings local businesses together. Here she tells us why and how she went about it
What is #wetherbyhour?
#wetherbyhour was one of the first online Twitter networking hours. We are a nifty way of networking online with local and like-minded businesses. For one hour, tweeters use the given hashtag in their tweets and follow, network and retweet other businesses doing the same. Used properly, it can be a great way to find new followers, connect with local businesses and promote products and services. Twitter works for any enterprise, including charities, schools, clubs, a huge range of groups and organisations.
I am proud to be the first twitter hour to branch into ‘live events’ when #wetherbyhour hosts a live face-to-face meeting held in different venues throughout the town, showcasing the town, who we are and what we do. It’s a great opportunity to meet the face behind the logo every month. The first #wetherbyhour Live saw just seven people attend but we now attract between 60 and100 people every month.
What is the inspiration for #wetherbyhour?
After being made redundant for a second time three years ago I made the biggest decision of my life, to go it alone in the big wide world of business. But what would I do? For a few years now, I had seen the footfall in my hometown diminish. The A1 was diverted and no longer came through the town, we had no Brown Sign on the new motorway to show commuters that we were here and of course there was dreaded credit crunch. I decided that wasn’t good enough for Wetherby and set out with my goal to make a difference. With a passion for local businesses and a determination to help them #wetherbyhour was born.
How has digital technology changed the outlook for Wetherby?
I see Wetherby as a truly forward thinking town. The days of opening your shop door and sitting back, waiting for the customers to stroll in is a thing of the past. So many people are time poor that grabbing a computer is sometimes the only choice they have. From seeing what you sell, where you are based or even to purchase, digital technology has changed the way Wetherby grabs the spotlight.
It has proven itself to be the quickest and most effective method to deliver your brand messages, products and more. It’s all about making sure you are a customer’s first thought when they need a service, product or advice. Social media is a very effective way of getting your message across if you use it properly.
What surprises you about #wetherbyhour?
It still surprises me today how popular #wetherbyhour is. I was in Halifax recently where I was asked if I was Jo from #wetherbyhour. It’s lovely to see that we not only connect with a local audience but we are making Wetherby known further afield. This is great for our business and tourism trade. I just love what I do.
What do you enjoy most about Wetherby?
Wetherby has such a handsome presence, steeped in history. There are so many places to soak in the beauty of the area that walking has to be my family’s most favourite thing to do. There are so many places to discover.
What is for you the most magical time of year in Wetherby?
I have lived in Wetherby for 28 years and Christmas is still the most magical time in the town for me. It’s a special time of year and one that is closest to my heart. The town looks so pretty and puts on the most wonderful Christmas lights switch-on event, which attracts thousands every year. It’s run by volunteers and really does highlight the most fabulous community spirit we have.
What surprises you most about the people who live and work in the town?
That’s easy; it’s the great number of people who are ready to give of their time as volunteers. Community spirit has always been high but we really should applaud the volunteers who put their own time and energy into keeping Wetherby stunning. I think this really makes our gorgeous market town special and gives it its individuality.
What are your hopes for the future of Wetherby?
Small and independent businesses are at the heart of our community, they make us special and unique. If I had one wish for the future of the town, that would be for all of us to spend a little more each week locally to support our local high street. w