Beer or Twitter?

One of the most interesting news stories to break this morning was the announcement by the pub chain J D Wetherspoon that it is to close all social media accounts with immediate effect. According to Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin, the decision has been taken because people spend too much time on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

So, the next time I feel the need to read Tim Martin’s latest rant about Brexit I’ll have to read it in Wetherspoon News rather than online.

Like many people, I have mixed feelings about the Wetherspoon chain. On the plus side, they always seem to have a decent selection of ales available and they do serve a good pint. Also their food, while not exactly adventurous, is well priced and of decent quality. I can especially recommend their breakfasts.

On the downside, too many of their pubs are so completely lacking in atmosphere that I sometimes feel that I’m having a pint in a bus station buffet or the public waiting area of a DWP office.

There is also the effect that they have on the competition. For example, 15 years ago the Anniesland area of Glasgow, a place I know well, had five busy and varied pubs. However, only the Wetherspoon now remains as the others were unable to compete with the mega chain’s enormous bulk buying power.  To be fair, Wetherspoon are by no means unique in monopolising a market, try finding a bookshop that isn’t called Waterstones or a baker that isn’t called Greggs.

It will be interesting to see how many other major companies follow Tim Martin’s lead and pull out of social media. Martin has said that he believes that most companies “waste hours of their time” monitoring and updating their social media channels.

There are some signs that the corporate world may be falling out of love with social media. The multinational Unilever seems poised to withdraw advertising from Twitter and Facebook due to concerns over fake news. The recent high profile controversy over privacy on Facebook suggests that the public may also be rethinking their use of these platforms.

Maybe Tim Martin in doing us all a favour. If I had to choose between downing a pint of real ale or checking my Twitter feed, I know which option I’d go for. Cheers!

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