Is this a brand that has never seen what a good social strategy looks like, a really strange PR stunt or a brand that completely gets and understands its target demographic and the channels that they live in?
You have to admit, when a national brand with over £1.6 billion revenue in 2017 comes out and says that they don’t believe social media benefits their business, it is a little shocking, if not slightly unbelievable.
But you better believe it folks, JD Wetherspoon the pub and hotel chain with around 900 outlets across the UK is closing all of its social media activity, with founder Tim Martin branding them as a ‘waste of time’.
So, why has the national pub chain made the decision to get rid of these channels?
A serious lack of social strategy and a lack of understanding about the role social media plays for their brand.
Clearly JD Wetherspoon doesn’t employ any social strategists, or if they do they should really consider some type of career change.
A five-minute scan across the pub chain’s social channels is enough to realise that there has been no attempt at any overarching strategy to turn the brand’s social media into something that could increase the brand’s awareness or loyalty from its customers.
The numbers are telling – the brand has 900 different Facebook accounts, one for each pub within its estate. That is 900 pub managers that could post whatever they like (if they could be bothered) under the JD Wetherspoon brand name. Doesn’t exactly scream manageable to me…
However, there are some positive numbers, or at least numbers that they could work with. Their main account on Twitter had 44,000 at the time of writing and their Facebook page was sitting around 100,000. Small numbers when you consider the size of JD Wetherspoon’s business and brand but a start at least.
It is evident that the pub chain had little respect for social media and the role that it played in it business strategy. Yet you can’t be think that had JD Wetherspoons invested in their social media and community management properly, it could bring huge benefits to their brand.
Look at Nandos for example, probably one of the best social media strategies to have been executed by a brand. Mixing creativity with social media they have used their ever-growing channels to build a huge online following and ultimately a huge affection for their brand.
JD Wetherspoon understands their target market very well and appreciates the channels they need to utilise to get the best results for their brand.
Be honest with yourself for a second, have you ever gone on to your local Wetherspoon’s Twitter or Instagram page? Based on the fact their twitter following sits at an insignificant 44,000 followers, the answer for the majority of you reading this is probably no!
If you fancy a pint for £1.20 and a burger of questionable quality for under £10 you are going to Google (let’s hope they remain on this) your closest Wetherspoon. Would the fact that they don’t have a Twitter or Facebook page deter you from going? In fact, the only reason I would go on to ANY public establishments social page would be to see
A. What the food looks like
B. What is on the menu and
C. How the interior of the pub looks.
Given that JD Wetherspoon pubs are pretty much carbon copies of each other from food to décor, it could be argued that there isn’t really much reasoning to visit prior to going.
There is also a case to be made that during a customers visit, social media isn’t high up on the agenda for most. Based on the fact that the most common theme of social media users is to create a picture perfect life to their followers, the local JD Wetherspoon probably doesn’t quite cut it for most when showing off.
The point to make here is that JD Wetherspoon have a clear idea of where their target market seeks to find out about their brand and social media obviously isn’t that place. This won’t have been a decision that Tim Martin, Founder and Chairman of the brand, made over his cereals this morning.
The growing resentment amongst people of the role that social media is playing in our lives.
There has been a lot of commentary recently on the long term effects of social media, we recently spoke about its evolution and our growing concerns on the role it was beginning to play in our lives.
It is clear from Tim Martin’s comments that Wetherspoon’s sit very much in this boat and they have decided to take a stand against it. It is true that the growing worry of the detrimental effects social media is having on our society can’t be ignored.
Martin was quoted as saying “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.”
Perhaps they see this as a strategic decision where they can look back as a brand and say ‘we were one of the first’. Who knows?
In truth, I firmly believe that it is a combination of all three. JD Wetherspoon’s social media channels were doing nothing for their brand, hence why Martin was quoted as saying “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers”.
It can be argued that this is probably down to the poor way these channels have been managed. There is no doubt that a well thought through social strategy for the brand, implemented on the world’s biggest communication platforms could benefit their brand.
However, let’s face it, JD Wetherspoons haven’t exactly been active on their channels and based on the wisdom that poorly ran and in-active social channels can be actually more detrimental to your brand than no social at all, they have still managed to build a company that served up a 4% rise in like for like sales in 2017 and has its revenue currently sitting at £1.6 billion. Perhaps Tim Martin and JD Wetherspoons are fairly happy with those figures and in fact don’t need the hassle of social media and having to manage customer complaints in the public domain…
Losing their social channels isn’t going to affect JD Wetherspoons in the short term, people are still going to go for their cheap and cheerful experience but you can’t help but think they could be doing a lot more.