Were ‘Spoons Right To Get Rid Of Social?
While huge numbers of pubs and restaurants rely heavily on social media to promote their businesses, pub chain JD Wetherspoon announced in mid-April that both its head office and 900 pubs would delete their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts with immediate effect.
Chairman Tim Martin explained the move by stating that he didn’t believe social media to be part of a successful business, and that people spend too much time on social networking sites, describing it as a “compulsion”. He also claimed that it was a waste of his pub managers’ time.
The move has certainly boosted the brand’s visibility, with some dismissing it as a publicity stunt and believing they’ll be back online in a few weeks. Martin denies this, and simply says that the best customer research and feedback can be gained in the pubs themselves – with staff interacting with customers face-to-face rather than anonymously online.
It’s a bold move from JD Wetherspoon – but with only 60% of UK businesses using social media, they’re not alone. It could be argued that the fact that they’re such a large chain and have such a long history (the brand was established in 1979) means there’s no need to increase brand awareness, but the move could also shoot them in the foot.
Used in the right way, social media can improve brand image, increase brand loyalty, provide customer service support and offer multiple channels to increase word of mouth. Customer service often underpins all social activity for a B2C brand: responding to customer queries and complaints publicly and in a timely fashion – even searching for mentions of the brand’s name if not tagged directly – can improve the commenter’s perception of the company and encourage them to tell their friends, as well as being seen by other social media users.
JD Wetherspoon have decided that all company communications will be via their website and their newsletter – both of which serve a solid purpose. However, the difference between these and social media is stark: while the former are more corporate and professional, the latter is designed to be friendly, informal and more personal – which is exactly what you would expect from a family-friendly pub.
The real impact of the decision remains to be seen. But with millions of potential customers now no longer able to interact with ‘Spoons on social media, the removal of a cost-effective customer communications solution may come back to haunt them.