We received the rather surprising news item below earlier this morning, which has already been widely reported. So, we spoke with JD Weatherspoon’s PR to get some additional context as you can read below.
Pub operator JD Wetherspoon is to close its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for its individual pubs and head office.
The company, which has almost 900 pubs across the UK and Republic of Ireland, is shutting all the accounts with immediate effect.
It says the move follows the bad publicity surrounding social media, including the ‘trolling’ of MPs and others, especially those from religious or ethnic minorities.
The move also takes account of recent concerns regarding the misuse of personal data and the addictive nature of social media.
JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said:
“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.
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.
We will still be as vocal as ever through our JD Wetherspoon News magazine, as well as keeping the press updated at all times.
We will also be maintaining our website and the JDWetherspoon app and encourage customers to get in touch with us via our website or by speaking with the manager at their local pub.”
As JD Wetherspoon has more than 44,000 Twitter followers and more than 100,000 followers on Facebook it will have taken quite some resource to build. So, what is the 180 degrees turn really all about?
To close communication channels with your customers down based on a fear of how they use them beyond engaging with your brand seems like an attempted micro nanny state action.
To then state that you are worried about how your customers use their time or control their compulsion to tweet is dare we say it, a bit rich.
Whilst most pub goers will visit to enjoy a few drinks today some will entertain their compulsion to drink. If you were to set out to visit a cross section of the JD Weatherspoon estate today, we are sure you would identify a problem drinker sooner than a problem tweeter. That’s simply the reality of the world and not JD Weatherspoon’s or the pub industry’s issue to deal with. So, closing social media channels to help combat addictive behaviour also seems somewhat trite.
To try and glean a fuller picture we spoke with their PR Eddie Gershon, Eddie told us:
“JD Weatherspoon are doing what they think is right for their customers and the company and there is nothing else in the decision other than stated. Tim stands on what he does and isn’t bothered about what H&C News or anyone else thinks.”
Must say that we do like the black and white view.