Wetherspoon puts social media ‘on the rocks’, should you?

The news rocking the social media boat this week is squarely focused on JD Wetherspoon decision to remove all social media presence for its 900 sites across the UK. The bold decision, taken by Chairman, Tim Martin has sparked an ironic ‘trend’ across the multitude of platforms asking whether this disruption will help or harm the company’s image, as well as raising the question “do all businesses need to have this presence to be successful?”

Whilst many sceptics have raised concerns that this makes the well-known high-street local less accessible to its customers, it does beg the question of how necessary an online platform is for a business that is focusing on face-to-face interactions and entertainment. But the decision to ditch social media has not been made without research. In 2018, the average Wetherspoon’s tweet mustered up a total of 6 retweets and 4 likes. Considering the audience on Twitter alone stood at 44,000 followers around the time, it’s clear that efforts around this strategy were not yielding a magnanimous return on investment.

To add to the mix, everyone is keeping a close eye on social media at present with the recent news that data sharing against user consent is taking place. Mark Zuckerberg took to the world stage last week to assure US Congress that whilst mistakes had been made, the digital world is still an ethical and safe place to be!

Whilst these ripples continue to settle – the undeniable truth remains that an online presence is profitable and opens up a business to the many – not just a few. JD Wetherspoon’s may have removed their social media presence but there is no sign of them closing their digital doors completely. The company intends to focus its efforts on their website, app and Wetherspoon news magazine.

Anyone running businesses in the modern age will be well acquainted with the question “are you online?” and a response of anything other than ‘yes of course’ conjures images of “small” “local” or “behind the times”.

Visualising your companies’ online presence as though it was on the high street is more realistic than most give credit for. Placement, image and content are all important aspects of getting attention, whilst value, quality and brand recognition are what will draw the crowds through the door.

I’m sure some people can relate to an experience I’ve had on my regular commute to work lately. Watching an almost derelict shop undergo a complete transformation; new windows, fascia and signage suggesting something new and exciting. This week I watched the suburban premises, once again become a business, opening its doors to the public with hope and ambition for what is to come. On the face of things, this new venture looks innovative and fresh but it’s not immediately obvious what they are selling or how reputable they are. Sure, they are presenting an impressive image to passers-by, but would I, or others even know about it if I wasn’t taking this route to the office each day?

The company may be advertising heavily to it’s key demographic, which may not be me – but it does highlight that without further investment to promote and instigate a following, the effort already exuded may be for nothing! Whilst Wetherspoon’s can rely on its well-established community, other businesses need to embrace online tactics and recognise the return on investment that can be had from well-placed strategy and commitment.

At Billian, we are only too aware of the importance of brand transition, helping travel agencies and other travel specialists move to an online platform or evolve existing propositions. The hard work does not end at product launch and we have helped a number of businesses push past the difficult ‘build it and they will come’ illusion to deliver profitable and recognised travel technology solutions within their portfolio that are accessible, easy to use and allow a business to grow exponentially within the modern world.

It will be interesting to see if JD Wetherspoon’s can sustain their choice to depart from social media. Perhaps the move will present them with a nasty hangover that can only be remedied by getting back on the wagon. Time will tell…

Do businesses really need social media for a successful online presence? Tweet your thoughts to @billianIT or join the conversation using #tech4travel.