J D Wetherspoon boycotts social media
The UK’s much loved pub chain, Wetherspoon (or ‘spoons’ as it is commonly known) has taken the step this week to withdraw from social media.
The chain has close to 1,000 bars across the UK and Ireland, and employs over 37,000 people, making it one of the largest pub businesses in Britain. So, naturally the choice for the company to boycott social media comes as somewhat of a shock.
Wetherspoon wrote, "In a world of social media, J D Wetherspoon has decided to close down all Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts for individual pubs and head office. Rather than using social media, we will continue to release news stories and information about forthcoming events on our website and in our printed magazine – Wetherspoon News.”
The digital closure has seen the deletion of the chains main accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Founder and Chairman Tim Martin commented: "We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business. I don't believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers.”
He added, "It's becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.”
The businessman also referred to "current bad publicity surrounding social media, including the trolling of MPs and others” as one of the reasons for the announcement. With the recent Facebook data scandal still very much at the forefront of global news, it is perhaps understandable that some business owners are becoming wary of the ever increasing power of social media, and the danger it could bring if not managed effectively.
The closure is an interesting strategic move for such a large company, with social media one of the key ways that businesses interact with customers and market new products. Questions around whether or not the closure will negatively impact the chain are expected.
However Wetherspoon pub managers voted overwhelming against the use of social media, with Martin asserting that "90-to-95% felt using social media was not helping the business" and that using social media was ‘side-tracking’ members of staff from the actual job at hand: serving customers.
As well as this, it is argued that Wetherspoon may be lashing out against a modern day movement that threatens the ethos of the pub – to interact with one another face-to-face. It is not uncommon today to walk into a pub or restaurant to see faces pointed toward screens, rather than speaking to each other.
It is unclear whether or not Wetherspoon will be the first to spark a new trend of rejecting social media, but the move spells bad news for popular media applications like Facebook which is struggling against a tirade of negative press in recent weeks.
Is this the beginning of the end for social media? Probably not… but it is a statement that will be heard across the UK.