The Wetherspoon’s Social Media Shutdown
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As of Monday evening, JD Wetherspoon’s disappeared from all social media platforms. This is not a drill, they really did remove all of their social accounts. No more will they post about their Steak Nights, Jagermeister offers or Sunday Roast deals.
Our Marketing Executive spotted an interesting angle on the social media shutdown in his LinkedIn feed:
Chairman Tim Martin reasoned that the decision was made to shut down social media channels because they are a ‘waste of time’ for the brand. He has also commented that people’s addiction to their screens is a part of the problem. We thought we’d delve into the decision to see if there is more to this than meets the eye…
1: The Wetherspoon’s social media shutdown is, in some way related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
There is some suggestion in the media that the JD Wetherspoon’s social media shutdown is related to the scandal which saw Mark Zuckerberg questioned about the safety of user data on Facebook.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has dominated the headlines in recent weeks concerning the use of Facebook user’s personal data by the company. There is no direct link between the pub chain and the scandal. However, both supported the Vote Leave campaign and there is some suggestion that data obtained by Cambridge Analytica was used to influence the referendum result.
Are JD Wetherspoon worried about how their data is going to be used by the social media giant or perhaps even how the fallout from the scandal will impact Facebook in the long term? These are big questions that are difficult to answer.
Ever since the data sharing came to light, #DeleteFacebook has been trending on Twitter. Many users have left the platform amidst privacy concerns. Facebook’s time as the most popular social platform worldwide is perhaps coming to an end. Is it time for businesses to call time too?
2: The Wetherspoon’s social media shutdown is a tactical decision based on social media effectiveness
Wetherspoon’s social channels had little social engagement. This JD Wetherspoon Twitter archive demonstrates the fallout after the account was officially closed (it was hacked by ex-staff members, then closed again!) but also shows a handful of tweets preceding the announcement. As the ex-social media executive suggests, their output was rather mundane and boring.
For Wetherspoon’s, the purpose of their social media channels seemed to revolve around customer service rather than as an effective promotional tool. As a result, the company feeds filled with both positive and negative feedback about customer’s experiences. The weight of negative reviews appearing on their accounts did the brand few favours, however, taking a more proactive approach to responding to customers may have been more productive.
The reducing effectiveness of social media channels on a more global scale, is also well documented. The Hired Guns commented on the sharp decline in social organic reach since 2012. This has had a detrimental impact on branded social media accounts (including our own). Although brands can still pay to distribute their social media posts, the organic reach of posts now averages 1-2% of a company’s followers.
It takes effort to make your social media accounts work. The low levels of engagement with the brand’s posts suggests they didn’t.
Controversially, the company chairman declared that people spend ‘too much time’ on social media, let’s hope he doesn’t use the same logic when looking at the amount of time people spend in the pub!
Do they need social media for their brand?
Before investing yet more time and effort into creating and managing social media channels, you need to know what purpose it will serve. One way that brands can predict the impact of their social channels is through looking at buyer personas. Data about a company’s main audience can give insight as to whether a particular marketing channel or strategy will be effective.
A number of brands have turned away from social media channels because of their declining effectiveness and pay-to-play nature. Wetherspoon’s makes good use of offline marketing channels; the brand have a print magazine which is freely available in most branches. They can survive without social media. However, to remove all involvement in social media seems like a drastic step.
What happens if people continue to post about their Wetherspoon experiences?
One question that we have pondered is how Wetherspoon’s plan to deal with social media feedback in the future. Although revelers have been invited to give their feedback in other ways, pub goers are still bound to comment on social channels. Leaving social media entirely exposes the company to unanswered criticisms that they could have previously dealt with directly. On the other hand, the low organic reach of any criticism isn’t likely to impact the pub chain juggernaut in any significant way.
What’s Your Strategy?
For some businesses, social media might be a waste of time. Investing in social media channels takes time. If you don’t stand to gain from your efforts, that time may be better spent elsewhere. That’s the decision JD Wetherspoon have taken about their social media accounts.
Monitoring customer behaviours, both on and offline, reveals where companies should spend most of their marketing efforts. One way to achieve this is to look at user demographics. Using marketing data to create a data driven marketing approach ensures that every marketing action yields maximum results. A Marketing CRM allows companies to analyse customer behaviours
If you are going to build up your brand on social media, you need to have an action plan. By that, I don’t mean some boring piece of strategy, rather, you need to know what to do when things go wrong. Whether you receive negative customer feedback or have poor engagement levels because you sound stale and boring, you need to be able to reinvent your social persona to keep your social media channels alive.