A pink mohawk, steaming hot potatoes and long queues of eager punters can only mean one thing; The Spud Man!
An NCASS member since 2003, Ben Newman, or The Spud Man as he is known to his 2.3 million followers on TikTok, has become somewhat of a global internet sensation of late; it goes without saying that not many people can boast that a couple flew from Malaysia to Tamworth solely for one of their tasty spuds. With 20 years’ experience in the game, Ben knows his way around a spud, we sat with The Spud Man to talk about his meteoric TikTok rise and his love for his local town. Keep an eye out for the full article coming soon in the next edition of The NCASS Member’s Magazine and enjoy a tasty teaser of what it’s like to be TikTok’s favourite jacket potato man.
Why did you first start posting on TikTok?
My eldest lad was on there and we made a couple of silly little videos together. I think it was my third video that got half a million views and it just opened my eyes to the possibilities. That was my turning point really. Also we’d just come back from COVID and the trade just wasn’t there. We needed to figure out how to let people know we were back and getting on social media seemed the best option at the time and it seems to have worked out!
What advice would you give someone who wants to start posting their business on TikTok?
TikTok is all about consistency and persistency, it’s that stupid. It’s not necessarily quality so don’t worry about having the perfect polished post, just post a lot! Something will stick and then you will find your niche. You’ll find what works and then just post, post, post, especially at the start aim for about 4 – 6 videos a day. Quantity is a good thing on TikTok and you don’t have to have thousands and thousands of followers to get views, that’s the good thing about it, if you’re content is good and engaging TikTok will push it out to people.
Why is supporting Tamworth and other jacket potato vendors so important to you?
You can get a good jacket potato anywhere and I say this to people all the time, go and support your local jacket potato van. I’ll do shout outs on TikTok, I did a video for the Jacket Potato Ladies down in Portsmouth a few months ago and she’s messaged me numerous times to say thank you and that she’s sold out every day since and it’s just amazing. I just try and be positive and do nice things. I want my van to still be where it is in 10 years’ time and if the Tamworth town centre isn’t there, neither am I. I love Tamworth to pieces but the council are really poor at marketing it as a touristy place. There’s lots of beautiful things here the council just doesn’t show it so I’ve kind of taken it upon myself to show it off.
What does the future hold for The Spud Man?
The jacket potatoes and social media are enough for me, I’m happy with what we’re doing. People want to make franchises out of me over multiple units but I just want to be the jacket potato man around Tamworth and I’m quite happy with that these days.
Keep an eye out for Issue 51 of The NCASS Member’s Magazine to read our full interview with The Spud Man.