Described by industry commentator Mark Ritson as ‘brand leadership at its best’, JD Wetherspoon’s move to close all of its social media accounts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram made headlines in April 2019. The pub chain’s decision comes at a time when many organisations are still scrambling to crack social media, clutching onto the assumption that it is essentially ‘the’ marketing channel of the future.
By sailing in totally the opposite direction, Wetherspoon has reinforced a contrarian view of the world, calculated to connect with its core customer base – few of whom, it would appear, use social media for interacting with the brand.
Of course, there is larger iceberg lurking below the surface. News this year has been dominated by the fall-out from a string of major data-privacy failures, putting social media firmly under the microscope. Cleverly, Wetherspoon didn’t cite the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data breach as a reason for its decision. Instead it framed it in terms of a ‘no-nonsense’ approach, rather than connecting it with any higher moral values.
With subsequent reports suggesting young people are leaving social media platforms, or at least switching between them, brands will have to keep a close eye on social trends in the coming year, especially when deciding where to allocate spend, and how to grow the marketing team.