WetherSpoon Chain is Coming Off Social Media. Should Your Business do the Same?

It was reported yesterday that Wetherspoon – one the biggest pub chains in the UK is officially closing down all of its social media channels with immediate effect. Why? Well according to chairman Tim Martin ‘it’s not helping business’ or their customers. As one of the largest and most successful pub chains would it be wise for your business to do the same? And will this be the start of new corporate trend?

Today I’m taking a closer look at what Wetherspoon is doing to understand whether this is a successful move or business suicide and whether your business should be on social media. 

What is Wetherspoon?

JD Wetherspoon is a pub chain in the UK and have built their success on being ‘cheap and cheerful’. If you like sitting in a pub that doesn’t play music and drinking watery beer, then check them out. With just under 1000 outlets (including hotels) nationwide the chain campaigned heavily in support of Brexit. Enough said!

Like most small businesses I always look to the big brands for inspiration. I focus on what brands are talking about and how they engage with followers. It would therefore be tempting to think that if a company like Wetherspoon has made the decision to come off social media that we should too?

Let’s take a closer look at what Tim said about pulling Wetherspoon from the social scene.
In a press release he gave the following reasons:

1. Their competitors are currently wasting hours of their time on social media. Presumably Tim thinks he’ll gain an advantage here.
2. ‘People spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook’
3. ‘We’re concerned that pub managers are being side tracked with the need to update social media.’

So, let’s look at the points made. Firstly, if you’re competitors are active on Social Media then it’s a good idea to be active on social too. It’s not a waste of time and I’ll be explaining why in just a moment.

The Wetherspoon’s chairman believes people are spending too much time on social media. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but does he really think by removing his company people will be left without a valid reason to visit these channels? I think not. In fact I’m willing to bet that it will have no impact on the social sphere whatsoever.

Tim’s last point is probably quite valid. As a business you shouldn’t rely on ground staff to manage social profiles. They are pub managers not specialists in social media. Instead they should have invested in a specialist to build a strategy that their staff could have fed into.
At the last check Wetherspoon – despite being pretty big – only had a following of 100,000 on Facebook and 6,000 on Instagram so it’s clear they never really nailed their social approach.

Should your small business be on social media?

Put simply, no!

So why should your business be on social media?

There are plenty of reasons why your business will benefit from being active on social media.

1. It actually helps with SEO:

Although it’s well known that metrics like the numbers of followers and ‘likes’ don’t influence our ability to rank highly on search engines, we shouldn’t be too hasty to dismiss it’s impact on SEO.

If nothing else Social Media is a great place for getting your name out there, sharing content and driving traffic to your site. And, since the number of direct visits IS a ranking signal it’s clear that social media can play a big role in driving traffic and building a brand.

2. Even if your following is small the potential is massive:

Think about it. There are over 2 billion monthly active Facebook users, 250 million active daily users on Instagram and over 330 million monthly active users on Twitter. If you create a post that gets shared, which gets shared again and again and again – it’s gone viral! The potential is massive and think about the effect of your bottom line?

3. Promotion:

If you’ve got a promotion, discount or give-away to promote social media is hands down one the easiest ways to get the word out. If it’s an irresistible offer it could have the potential to reach a wider audience resulting in more followers and more customers.

4. Local SEO:

For large chains and small business social media can really help with local SEO. Using Wetherspoon as an example, let’s imagine you’re visiting a new city with you’re family. You use your phone to check out nearby places to eat.

Granted, if you’re on Google My Business and your SEO is good your local business or chain could be listed on results pages. However, if the knowledge graph then pulls in information from your social media accounts like awesome reviews, positive feedback and today’s menu (that you’ve posted on your social media that morning with a cracking image of irresistible food) then you’re going to stand a much better chance of attracting new customers.

Make a note of the Facebook reviews that appear in the knowledge graph.

5. Great for instant messages:

If you’ve got an important announcement to make then your social media channels make it easy to get the word out. In their statement Wetherspoon said that it would continue to make important announcements on their website and in their newsletter. Hmmmm, not sure about you but as a consumer I’m not in the habit of visiting websites on daily basis to spot new announcements. And how often is Wetherspoon planning on sending out newsletters?

6. Being social helps to build an online brand:

If you want a good online presence you have to build an online brand. Building a brand helps you to position your business, make you different from your competitors, helps to tell your story (values, reasons why you exist) and ensures growth. People use social media on a daily basis so there isn’t a better way of getting involved and sharing your story to build brand loyalty.

7. Quickly answer and resolve issues:

Many people turn to social media to ask questions, tag themselves at your business location or even make a complaint. Being able to respond quickly (even to negative reviews and complaints) builds trust and transparency with your following. I would image for a large chain like Wetherspoons not being able to engage with them on social platforms is going to cause a bit a frustration for their customers.

8. Connecting with people/customers:

I admit that my social profiles aren’t well stocked or updated daily. As single freelancer with a stack of clients most of my time is dedicated to managing clinets’ social profiles. However, on an almost daily basis I received questions, queries and connect with people that want to work with me. And since I’m all about supporting small business I’m happy to help and social media has helped me to find other industry experts that I can work with.

9. 3 out 4 people check Social Media before purchasing:

According to Digital Marketing Magazine 74% of consumers rely on social media to make a purchasing decision. Consumers check peers reviews about products and brands so my advice would be to get on social media, encourage reviews and connect these to your products are services. 

What can small businesses (and Wetherspoon) do better?

I get it. If you’re a time poor small business you simply don’t have the budget to run a multitude of social platforms well. And you certainly can’t afford a team of social media strategists. But there are things you can and should do.

1. Stick to one or two channels and manage them well:

You don’t have to be on every single social media network to have a successful business. If there is one channel you are confident with using, stick to it and put your effort towards making it the best it can be by keeping it regularly updated.

2. Or… go to where your followers are:

If you’re completely new to social media it would make sense to do a bit of research to determine where your target audience is most likely to hang out. If for example you sell cruises to middle-aged folk you’re probably not going to find many of them on Instagram. Alternatively, look at Facebook. It’s a good platform for all ages.

3. If you do have any budget (like Wetherspoon) for social media get an expert to manage your account:

Don’t rely on ground staff to do this. Although, it is a good idea to have your staff supply images, posts, updates there should be an overarching strategy in place that everyone feeds into and contributes towards.

4. Avoid posting for the hell of it:

Unless you have something spectacular to say – it’s probably best left unsaid. If you post constantly about random stuff that isn’t going to add value to your audience in some way they’ll soon learn that you’re not worth following and hide your posts. Or worse, delete you completely.

5. Post organically:

If you’ve already established what your core values are and what makes your business different to your competitors then post with the aim of reinforcing this. Share the day to day running of your business or share things that people who follow you will want to know about. Or things that are going to add value to them, like great blogs or guides.

Be less Wetherspoon and more social.

There are so many benefits to using social media. If your business isn’t using utilising these channels, then you should give it some careful consideration. And, if you’re a large business like Wetherspoon with a lot of followers, I really wouldn’t recommend pulling the plug on it. Yes, Facebook latest data breach is annoying and worrying but let’s not forget that followers are customers that have chosen to follow you, want to hear from you want to let others know that they ‘like’ and support your business.

If I’ve not been able to convince you to adopt a social media presence, then at least use Google My Business and Google Plus. Remember that Google will use images that you share on this platform to populate search results, so it could just made or break a deal or clinch that next customer. Take note local businesses! I really don’t thing that Wetherspoons will be setting a corporate trend in removing themselves from social media channels. In fact they’ve probably made it easier for independent pubs to prosper online.

Follow Us

Free Website Health

Share the love

Work With Us

Get Ready to Achieve More Online.

Take the first step to better online visibility and start generating those essentials leads for your business.


Free SEO Audit

Take the first step to improved website health and improved visibility.