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Pub chain cans all accounts

Social media a ‘waste of time’ says Wetherspoon boss

Tim Martin

Tim Martin: ‘our team was wasting hours of their time monitoring social media accounts’

Pubs group JD Wetherspoon  has gone against the marketing grain and canned all of its social media channels.

The chain’s outspoken boss Tim Martin said that the idea that social media is a must-have for every business is “untrue”, claiming that his team was wasting hours of their time monitoring the accounts.

“I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers,” he said.

Wetherspoon has shut down down its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for all 904 of its pubs and its head office.

The pub chain linked the move to bad publicity surrounding social media including the “trolling” of MPs.

Mr Martin’s view and the group’s decision may have repercussions across the marketing sector which has been forced to re-appraise social media following the Facebook data scandal.

Whereas that episode concerned privacy, Wetherspoon’s decision is based more on its assessment of social media’s value as a marketing tool, although it said it was influenced by concerns regarding the “misuse of personal data” and “the addictive nature of social media”.

Mr Martin said: “We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers.”

The chairman said that the company had consulted its pub managers before making the move, and “90-to-95% felt using social media was not helping the business”.

Evgeny Chereshnev, CEO and founder of data protection firm Biolink.Tech, said: “One of today’s modern misconceptions is that social media (SM) is essential for business. The truth is, most companies totally mix cause and effect; they invest lots of money in SM as if those channels were a business goal in itself, but in reality SM is just a tool for talking and listening to your clients.

“Is social media the only way to perform those two tasks? Definitely not. There are numerous examples of companies being weak or absent across social media and still remaining insanely successful at the same time. Apple, for example, has never run contests or produced a huge amount of content for Facebook and it is still able to sell billions of devices. Same with Google, Tesla or SpaceX…and the list goes on.

“Even when you as a company seem to have likes and shares for a promoted post, those are often just bots. The truth is , when you are a company that has something truly unique and valuable to say, people will always find a way to get in touch with you.

“They either will come to your blog or get information from a traditional source like a well-known and trusted media outlet. On the SM front, people may subscribe to a CEO’s private channels, which is way more credible. If a CEO puts their name on something, they rarely put out bad content so as not to be associated with it! Elon Musk’s account is a pretty good illustration of my point.

“Focus on the quality of the product, do not lie, do not have hidden fees, reply to your clients on your website, blog or mobile app to show that you care. So, focus on what you do and how you do it; not where.

“The way most companies run SM is a total waste of time and money. They post content that has zero value to the readers.

“But, don’t get me wrong, SM can be a very productive activity for business. But unfortunately creativity is not scalable. Great SM managers and leaders are a rare breed, but a lot of them get exhausted over time and stop being quite so great.

“The SM ecosystem is actually a very complex thing to set up and maintain, and there is literally only a handful of people who can lead global SM teams effectively. That’s why most of the SM activities are compensated with paid ads. Content quality is irrelevant; when you pay Facebook, you’ll get your views, but are those views good for business? In most cases the value is close to zero.

“Is Instagram popular by being active in Instagram itself?  Is Tesla’s $50 billion valuation the result of an amazing Facebook page? Are people eating McDonald’s food because they do an amazing job promoting themselves via YouTube? The answer is no.

“Even with no SM channels, or limited activity on SM channels, every business can be popular. All it needs is the right digital strategy based on true values, not tools of execution.”


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