A major pub chain in the United Kingdom has suddenly shuttered all of its social media accounts after chairman Tim Martin suggested society as a whole would benefit if others followed his example.
Rejecting the widely held idea that a successful business needs a social media presence, J.D. Wetherspoon on Monday pulled the plug on hundreds of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts linked to its 900 pubs across the country. It also closed accounts associated with its head office.
The company announced the surprise move on Monday — on Twitter. It said the decision comes in the wake of “the bad publicity surrounding social media, including the ‘trolling’ of MPs and others, especially those from religious or ethnic minorities.”
It said it was also aware of recent concerns over the misuse of personal data and the “addictive nature of social media.”
In comments that may have left some people wondering if he was talking about booze rather than social media, Tim Martin told LBC Radio: “People who don’t use it feel that the people who do use it are too preoccupied by it, they’re on it too much, and people who do use it wish they could get off it.”
Notably, the 62-year-old chairman said he had concerns that social media was causing some of his pub managers to be “side-tracked from the real job of serving customers,” adding that after consulting them, “90 to 95 percent” agreed the medium provided little value to the business.
They may have been right. Despite the pub chain’s prominence in the U.K., few drinkers could be bothered to follow its social media accounts, with Wetherspoon’s main Twitter feed followed by fewer than 50,000 people. On Instagram it had just 6,275 followers.
But some will suggest its content wasn’t interesting enough to attract followers, and that a more creative approach to the medium could’ve scored more interest, allowing it to publicize offers and events to attract more people to its pubs.
Going forward, the company said it would make do with posting announcements on its website and in its print magazine, or by speaking to the press directly, something the colorful chairman is already well used to doing.
Asked if there was any chance his company might one day reopen its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, Martin told the BBC, “It’d be completely fascinating if I have to crawl back to Facebook, my goodness me, that’d be a catastrophe,” adding, “It’s not impossible — you have to keep your options open in business. If I do it, what a humiliation.”