Lee Kenny: JD Wetherspoons goes cold turkey over social media

Lee Kenny is a Halifax based entrepreneur, specialising in web design, online marketing and sales generation for small and growing businesses
Lee Kenny is a Halifax based entrepreneur, specialising in web design, online marketing and sales generation for small and growing businesses

This week JD Wetherspoons, the huge pub chain announced it was closing down its social media accounts with immediate effect.

This week JD Wetherspoons, the huge pub chain announced it was closing down its social media accounts with immediate effect. Depending on which report you read, reasons vary from unfair criticism of the chain, a social statement that people are spending too much time on social media or finally that it just didn’t work for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a reinstatement some time soon, but if they were expecting a public outcry that people couldn’t live without their tweets, memes or staff selfies, they may be waiting some time.

Looking at Wetherspoons empire and size, they had surprisingly low follower numbers and an even smaller engagement rate with their fans. Despite a huge PR machine and marketing department they only managed 44,000 Twitter followers. When you consider they have over 37,000 staff, its not going to be a real loss to the twitter ecosphere.

Facebook served up slightly better numbers with 100,000 followers but often their posts would get very little response. So where did it all go wrong for Wetherspoons and why on earth couldn’t they make social media work when they have millions of customers each month?

Lack of focus: With over 900 separate Twitter accounts, what started as a good idea separating out each location hurt their ability to speak with one voice.

Poor content and messaging: When you don’t put much effort or imagination in to your tweets or Facebook posts, people will start to ignore what you do produce. In time this trains social media algorithms to stop showing your stuff all together.

Arrogance: Some may say that Wetherspoons feels like its market position means that they don’t need social media to drive sales and customer visits and who knows that may be true. However telling people that they need to come to the venue or read their in-house magazine to see what’s happening is the equivalent of telling people they have to watch TV program at 7pm on a Tuesday. Most of the market has now shifted to an “on-demand” model and will watch when it is convenient to them.

Lack of vision: Wetherspoons will no doubt compare customer numbers and sales over the coming weeks with those when social media was active and claim parity. However, the missing data is how much higher those numbers could have been if they’d actually captured the public’s attention with an innovative, engaging and rewarding social media strategy.

As an organisation you choose to showcase your business where your customers spend most of their time. These days that is on social media in one form or another. Wetherspoons won’t miss the sales from their social media accounts, they’ll miss out on the potential customers they never reached in the first place. That could mean last orders for some of their locations around the country!

What do you think? Tweet @socialsnowflake or comment on the SocialSnowflake Facebook page

Lee Kenny is a Halifax based entrepreneur, specialising in web design, online marketing and sales generation for small and growing businesses. @SocialSnowflake