Pub chain JD Wetherspoon today announced the shock decision that it is quitting social media.
The 900-strong pub chain used Twitter to inform its 44,000 followers that it would no longer be active on the platform. It has also deleted its Instagram and Facebook accounts.
The firm said its decision had been influenced by the “trolling” of MPs and concerns regarding the “misuse of personal data”. It also hit out at the “addictive” nature of social media.
Outspoken founder and chairman, Tim Martin, claimed the move wouldn’t harm his business at all. “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever,” he said.
“We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business,” said Mr Martin.
He told the BBC he had always thought the idea that social media was essential for advertising was untrue.
“We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers,” he said.
The chain is understood to have consulted pub mangers before making the move, claiming that “90-to-95%” felt that social media was not helping the business.
Mr Martin said Wetherspoon would remain as vocal as ever, but would instead use its magazine and website as well as the press for news updates.
“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion,” Mr Martin said.
Wetherspoon said that customers looking to get in touch with it could contact the business through its website or by visiting one of its sites.
At the time of ditching its social media accounts, the pub chain had more than 100,000 Facebook followers and 6,000 on Instagram.
Asked by the BBC whether Wetherspoon’s move could start a business trend, Mr Martin said he hoped not. “Currently we’ve got a massive commercial advantage because everyone else is wasting hours of their time,” he responded.
Not everyone agrees, however. Erin Simons, head of social media at ecommerce and digital agency Visualsoft, said: “Social media provides an invaluable way for retailers to engage – and build stronger relationships with – customers, so JD Wetherspoon’s decision to shut its accounts in order to better serve its customers seems strange.
“Clearly, the pub chain’s social strategy has been scattered; with hundreds of different brand accounts vying for the attentions of a similar audience. However, to completely disregard the potential of social media to drive traffic, conversation and engagement around your offering is extremely unwise, and something we would not recommend to any brand.”