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Wetherspoons boycotting social media 

Nick Lee

This is an interesting move from Wetherspoons, and it can be viewed in a number of different ways. On the one hand, in the grandest sense, one might wonder if this signals the beginning of a general backlash against social media by big brands. Contributor Nick Lee, Professor of Marketing – Warwick Business School.

If this is a decision made by Wetherspoons in light of a detailed study of the return on investment in social media, which found that the time they spent on it was not justified by positive results, then I can only applaud them for being courageous enough to admit that, and hope that their move might inspire more companies to really address the return they get from social media investments.

Of course, on the other hand, this could be a cost-cutting exercise dressed up as a social statement, hoping to capture what seems to be the mood of the times. Or, it could be in itself a brand-building exercise, hoping to position Wetherspoons as a brand that ‘cares’ about the impact of social media in today’s society. That would be an interesting and courageous place to be for Wetherspoons.

Whatever the motivation, this decision certainly should encourage all brands who use social media to interrogate the benefits they really get from social channels. Are they really providing a strategic benefit to the firm, or are they only doing it because ‘everyone else is’?

Perhaps now, when the public is beginning to question whether social media is an unambiguous benefit, is the time for firms to really think about the real value of their social media investments?

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