Who needs social anyway… JD Wetherspoons says no thanks

Who needs social anyway… JD Wetherspoons says no thanks

26th April, 2018 by Grace Oliver

Last week it was announced that JD Wetherspoons was deleting all of its social media accounts – a bold move in a world obsessed with social!

Chairman Tim Martin said that it had consulted its pub managers before making the move, and “90-to-95% felt that using social media was not helping the business” – though of course it’s possible Wetherspoons wasn’t utilising the platforms in the business-helping way it could be.

However, Martin, always the contrarian, maintains: “We’ve got a massive commercial advantage because everyone else is wasting hours of their time”. There’s a difference though between not having the resources to do the job (and maybe pub staff shouldn’t be “wasting hours” tweeting) and not doing the job very well.

It could be argued that after a brand or company gets to a certain size, social media becomes less relevant. Wetherspoons is so ingrained in the British culture (cheeky pint at Spoons anyone?) that we doubt they’ll see an immediate downturn in business due to the move. However, they also won’t see any of the potential benefits. Because there’s another, and perhaps more important side to social media than churning out pub-related social media ‘brandfill’ is more likely to annoy potential punters than lure them inside.

Dedicated social media accounts mean an immediate connection with your customers, on a platform they regularly visit, and want to read. The suggestion in some media that Wetherspoons’ customers are not social media users is patronising in the extreme and to cut off one of their communication channels to the business seems short-sighted. It suggests that they don’t want to know what their customers think.

Social channels mean customers have somewhere easy they can go to when they want to complain about, or praise, a brand or company. While complaints and negative comments can overtake the positive, the trickier a complaints process, the more annoyed your customers will be. While brands may be much more likely to receive complaints via social than positive comments, this probably says more about us as a species than social media as a platform…

Responding directly to your customers shows them that you care.   A brand interaction, no matter how small, can reinvigorate a consumer’s interest in a brand and make them feel like a valued customer, not just a nameless face in a crowd. A ‘like’ from a big brand goes a long way!

It remains to be seen whether this is a good move or bad for Spoons, but if the perception that it doesn’t want to hear from customers gains traction, it could do more commercial harm to the brand than letting pub staff tweet for 10 minutes a day.