JD Wetherspoon To Close Down All Social Media

If you’re a follower of digital marketing, you may have seen in the news this morning that the pub chain and home to the hangover breakfast, JD Wetherspoon, has made the decision to close down all social media accounts for every pub in its chain and its head office account.

The chairman of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, said:

“We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business.”

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.”

“We will still be as vocal as ever through our Wetherspoon News magazine, as well as keeping the press updated at all times.”

“We will also be maintaining our website and the Wetherspoon app and encourage customers to get in touch with us via our website or by speaking with the manager at their local pub.”

Oh, Tim Martin, If you think that the closure of every social media channel is not going to affect your business, directly or indirectly, you couldn’t be more wrong.

With the removal of the head office accounts alone, Tim has just removed his ability to communicate with around 144,000 customers who were directly engaged with his brand, unless of course, Tim and his team have been making a concerted effort over time to convert social media followers into newsletter subscribers (although I doubt it).

This kind of action shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the power of social media for a brand like JD Wetherspoon. This statement is reinforced by the fact that Tim also said:

“I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers.”

I wonder what percentage of pub managers are actually in favour of this and, of those pub managers, how many are bonafide social media experts that truly believe social media holds no real value for the brand.

I wrote a tweet yesterday that said:

Tim and the Wetherspoon brand have actively bet against social media as a platform for the future and decided to opt out of the market completely.

I am not saying that Wetherspoon won’t continue to attract the crowd it always had and provide people with that “is it too early to have a pint” beverage, or an insanely cheap hangover breakfast that is either unprofitable or will soon be revealed as being unfit for human consumption. Of course, they will (for a time at least). What is undeniable, is that they have just removed a whole section of their marketing mix without (in my opinion) doing their due diligence.

If they truly haven’t seen the outrageous benefits of social media marketing, they clearly haven’t been doing it right. The hyper-local targeting that’s possible through facebook alone should have been a game-changer for them. The experiential nature of Instagram and the ability to create and join conversations on twitter should have all had a huge impact on brand awareness and ultimately footfall for a brand like this.

Here’s my prediction:

JD Wetherspoon will rejoin at least on social media platform within the next 12 months

If not, there is definitely an opportunity for someone to claim a handle and start doing it well for them so they can see how it’s done.

What are your thoughts on the news?

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