Did the UK’s largest pub chain just delete its social media accounts? Yes, actually.
J D Wetherspoon has culled its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts because it felt it was a non-worthwhile distraction from serving pints that wasn’t serving any purpose. Instead, loyal customers will now need to visit the website or pick up a copy of Wetherspoon News for the latest updates.
But, will this bitter move have digital marketers across industries fearing for their careers? Will it ‘eck.
To me, the company’s using trolling as an excuse to shift social media sideways, with the added knee-jerk reaction to recent security breaches. I’m by no means condoning trolling at all, but isn’t it just an cruel extension of the gossip and lies we find in all comments section of online forums and, to some extent, even reader’s letters in magazines?
Essentially, where people have an outlet to vent, they’ll use the good, the bad and the ugly. Social media has never been, or ever will be different, it just needs to be better managed.
Perhaps Tim Martin, Chairman of Wetherspoon, should have listened to this advice.
Instead he nobly believes that leaving these platforms won’t have a negative impact on his business, and will even eventually encourage a more positive customer culture.
But, with just 44,000 Twitter followers to ‘throw away’ (and 100,000 on Facebook but with consistent low engagement), perhaps the move simply highlights pub managers’ inadequate training or the marketing’s department blind spot to amalgamate its suite of channels.
There’s strength in numbers; it provides an opportunity to craft your brand voice and fully utilise engagement tools. Setting up an account and hoping the social media channel will do the rest, is never an option.
A quick look at screen grabs of J D Wetherspoon’s accounts (you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone), suggests that it was aimlessly going through the motions with little creativity and innovation to bring its brand to life – particularly in the last month or so.
It had the opportunity to draw a line in the sand and revamp to improve brand awareness among specific demographics, earn share of voice through key sporting events such as the Grand National and even encourage loyalty through community development, by reaching out to ask what people want to see on menus etc.
Instead, J D Wetherspoon said nothing, did nothing and got nothing.
The truth is whether you like social media or not, it’s the quickest way to generate mass affiliation with your brand that you can then leverage across offline channels.
Anyone in charge of a social media strategy knows what it feels like to hover over the delete button. It requires creativity, tenacity and deep pockets – especially when the algorithm goal posts keep moving. But that’s the thrill. You stick with it. Make mistakes and get back on the horse.
It’s likely it really won’t have an impact on the pub chain’s wider business. But, would social media have done any harm? No. Did it present opportunities? Yes.
For J D Wetherspoon, it’s a cheap PR stunt today and a long walk in the wilderness after that. Don’t you agree?