Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Who needs social media?


I had intended posting a piece about CAMRA, which I promised Retired Martin would be less controversial than the previous one. However, I’m still working on it, after having been side-tracked by the allure of dry weather and longer evenings. Our patio is in urgent need of a tart-up, so I’ve been on my knees raking out the weeds and the old pointing between the paving slabs, ready for some nice new grouting to fill the cracks.

Instead, here is a short piece about Tim Martin, everyone’s favourite pub chain boss, who certainly hit the headlines yesterday, when he announced that with immediate effect, he was pulling the plug on Wetherspoon’s social media accounts.

By closing the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as the separate accounts held by over 900 individual Wetherspoon outlets, Mr Martin is turning his back on social media and taking what he believes to be a stand against the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In doing so he is effectively waving goodbye to 44,000 Twitter followers and more than 100,000 followers on Facebook.

Citing concerns over issues such as data privacy, the addictive nature of social media and the trolling of MPs, the boss of the discount pub chain said, “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.”

He went on to say that whilst this move was "going against the conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business”,  he and the company's pub managers, do not believe that closing the accounts will have any affect on the business "whatsoever". He added that "on a commercial basis it saves people in the company time, and that will enable them to get on with their own jobs."

It is hard to disagree with his decision, and when viewed in the context that much of the social media feedback which Spoons were getting, was negative and centred on people complaining about the size of the portions they were getting, or that their breakfast was poorly cooked. And as each pub manager was responsible for maintaining the Facebook page for their own individual pub, this must be a distraction they will be glad to see the back of.

There is of course, no such thing as bad publicity, and Mr Martin has never been afraid to court controversy; especially when it suits his purpose. Not wanting to spark any further controversy of my own, I won’t mention his leaflets or the beer mats, in support of a certain cause, but there have been other equally contentious issues, such as dropping the Sunday roast from the menu along with the traditional roast-turkey Christmas dinner. 

Installing large-screen TV’s in many JDW outlets, has also not been without its share of criticism as, even with the volume turned right down, the screens are at best a distraction and at worse a complete intrusion on a night out.

The reaction to Tim’s latest move which ironically, was announced on Twitter as well as in a press release, seems quite muted, so let’s leave the final comments to a company spokesman.

"We don't feel social media is worth it in the social climate. There's not one event that led to this move. You know Wetherspoon’s – we take our decisions and that's what we do. We don't care what other people think.” 

"We're not bothered by social media and we're not hiding from anything."

In a strange kind of way I admire Tim Martin for taking a stand against the increasing encroachment of the tech-giants, and from a personal point of view I am not concerned in the slightest. I don’t have a Twitter account and tend to use Facebook as a source for various news feeds, and as a platform for keeping in touch with friends and family. I’m pretty confident then that he will weather the fallout from this decision with relative ease.

19 comments:

Russtovich said...

Hmmm, not much to add from my perspective. Like you I'm not on Twitter. As well (shock!) I'm not on Facebook either. My wife loves FB but she comes from a large family (she's one of 12, her mother was one of 18!) so for her family it's a great way to keep in touch.

As for kudos or complaints about a company, there are other alternatives (Trip Advisor comes to mind, or Yelp if it's still around). :)

As for Sunday dinners and large screen TVs, all I can say is good luck trying to figure out the perfect business plan to ensure success. As has been bandied about on some of the blogs I frequent recently there's no such thing as a perfect pub. Big screens will draw some folks in and drive others away. Same goes for anything a pub does or does not do. Hopefully a pub will notice what happens whenever they tweak what they're doing; and hopefully the customer will always have a choice. :)

Cheers

Curmudgeon said...

I'm sure that one reason behind this was the potential for individual managers to undermine the brand by posting ill-considered messages and getting into spats with customers.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

I'n genuinely not trying to mention the B-word again but I read this morning that some conspiracy theorists reckon the sites are being pulled because Timbo allowed the 'Spoons data base to be used Cambridge Analytica-style by the Leave campaign.
I doubt it would have been worth the effort - I'd have most old codgers in 'Spoons down as Leavers anyway.
On balance I think Tim is probably right but as I've never been on social media in my life I wouldn't really know its effectiveness.

www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/social-media/2018/04/cambridge-analytica-brexit-leave-mp

Ethelred The Unsteady said...

"We are concerned about the addictive effects of social media" says boss of pub chain where you can buy a pint at 0800.

(With acknowledgements)

Cheers,

E

Ethelred The Unsteady said...

Prof, in the case of Spoons' customers' leanings I'd say that you are probably quite near the mark, but the CA/AIQ campaigns' aims in many cases were not to change people's affiliation, but rather to alter the likelihood of their actually voting.

But, hey, let's let those Olympians, who were found to have doped, keep their medals, even if they put Novichok in their rivals' running shoes too eh?

EU exit "good for business", says boss of pub chain for skint no-hopers ;-)

Mudge, you paraphrase some of Tim's very words pretty closely.

Cheers,

E

Professor Pie-Tin said...

@Ethelred The Unwelcome

I know you're intent on turning every thread into a Brexit slugfest but give it a rest old sport - you're becoming tiresomely predictable.

Ethelred The Unsteady said...

I don't do FB or Twitter, but the latter has clearly quite a lot to recommend it for some things, and Mrs. E uses it with some aplomb.

I'm content to accept Tim Martin's explanation for dropping them, having seen the puerile tripe that was posted by staff and customers alike for the Back Of Beyond in Reading for instance.

Cheers,

E

Paul Bailey said...

Yes I think Mudge’s explanation comes closest, and it does tie in with Tim Martin’s comment that by dropping social media, it will free up management time for more productive things.

I don’t think the decision will harm Wetherspoons’s business one bit and will certainly save the company’s management and staff from permanently “outraged” serial complainers, with too much time on their hands.

Martin Taylor said...

Not necessarily proving less controversial than your last post, Paul 😉

Typically the BBC have misreported this as a ban on social media. I can still go in Spoons and tweet about them, write Trip Advisor reviews and order my burger. The restriction is on their own staff wasting time on social media, a sensible move despite the backlash from social media folk.

Ethelred The Unsteady said...

I'm sorry to read that you find me unwelcome, prof. Have you added me to your (I suspect long) list?

Here's someone whom you might like instead:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6WQEGULvH8

Maybe Tim could put this up on his big screen TVs?

Cheers,

E

Ethelred The Unsteady said...

Aw, here's me thinking that you might like Jordan Peterson, prof.

After all, he did write Twelve Rules For Life, a good, trusty, Imperial Measurements replacement, for those silly, metric, internationalist, old Ten Commandments eh?

Cheers,

E

Curmudgeon said...

I thought this was supposed to be a beer blog rather than a platform for political axe-grinding.

Paul Bailey said...

It is supposed to be a beer blog Mudge, but it looks as though I shall have to introduce comment moderation on any post with even the vaguest hint of politics about it!

Ethelred The Unsteady said...

Well, you might want to hear what Jordan Peterson says about social media such as Facebook then guys, and it chimes in from a different angle with what Tim Martin says.

It's easy enough to find.

You don't do irony, do you Mudge?

Cheers,

E

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