Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has ditched its social media accounts, citing the “misuse of personal data” and the bad publicity around trolling on MPs among the reasons for its decision.
The move comes ten months after the company deleted its entire email marketing database.
At the time, it insisted email marketing was simply “too intrusive” for its customers, despite claims that it did not hold the right consent under data protection legislation.
The pub chain currently has more than 100,000 Facebook followers, 44,000 on Twitter and more than 6,000 on Instagram.
The firm’s head office and 900 pubs will quit social media with immediate effect, it said.
Chairman Tim Martin told the BBC that society would be better off if people cut the amount of social media use. He added: “We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business. We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers,” he said. “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever.”
Martin added that he had always thought the idea that social media was essential for advertising was untrue.
The chairman said that the company had consulted its pub mangers before making the decision, and that “90-to-95% felt using social media was not helping the business”.
He added: “I find most people I know waste their time on it. A lot of them say they know they waste their time on it, but they struggle to get off it.”
Martin said that Wetherspoon would instead use its magazine and website as well as the press for news updates. “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion,” he added.
Professor Nick Lee of Warwick Business School said: “Whatever the motivation, this decision certainly should encourage all brands who use social media to interrogate the benefits they really get from social channels. Are they really providing a strategic benefit to the firm, or are they only doing it because ‘everyone else is’?
“Perhaps now, when the public is beginning to question whether social media is an unambiguous benefit, is the time for firms to really think about the real value of their social media investments?”
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