Influencer Marketing and JD Wetherspoon’s Move Away from Social


I read with great interest the articles detailing 900 plus UK based pub giant JD Wetherspoon’s decision to remove and delete all data bases and all social media accounts. It accounts nearly $2 billion in sales and 35,000 employees across the UK. 

According to Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin in a Monday statement he shared:

“We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business. I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.”

It is noted that simply because the company may forgo all social media, it’s clear they are a technically astute company. In many ways, highly advanced in payment methods, mobile app use, and a host of other technological implementations that make the company relevant in technology. 

So what might this mean for brands that utilize influencer marketing? Specifically spirits, wine and beer brands. It’s clear that if JD Wetherspoon does actually delete all accounts, they will lose some ability to prove conversion with influencer marketing technologies of the future. Their biggest fans won’t be easily recognized unless there is a desire to leverage POS data around the customer’s spends and preferences. 

In more traditional influencer marketing, the brand pays for mentions and engagement. They pay for content that is perceived as authentic by the audience and documented as sponsored content if it’s kept legal.

I would argue that the need for influencer marketing transparency and visible ROI from influencer marketing spends is more important than ever. The same is true of social media spends. The days of brand marketing under the guise of poorly measured engagement, intent to buy surveys, and social media measurement of any kind should be over. If the spend can’t translate into measurable shopping cart spends, why do it? 

Influencer marketing should be geared toward the influencer’s audience and some potential action to be taken on behalf of the audience. I like the campaigns where the influencer comes right out and says, I love this cool product, you should buy it as well. When it comes to a spirits, wine or beer brand, social is a slippery slope. It’s too hard to age verify and aim your age appropriate message to the right audience. 

If spirits, wine and beer brands were to target the right influencers with the right opt-in strategy, then age appropriate targeting and offers could be made via email and text. There would be an appropriate use of social for lead gathering but not advertising. 

JD Wetherspoon’s boss is convinced that there is no financial gain from being on social. Perhaps the reason that may be true is that it wasn’t used for that purpose? I would assure you that if social media were working as its potential allows, there would be substantial risks in deleting all accounts. I would be using the power of social to build community and elevate the users. Maybe that’s easier to say than do. By steering social media followings to their app or email list or sms/text services JD Wetherspoon still meets customers where they are without having to deal with social media over the long haul. Maybe they have done enough of that to pull off that move effectively. Their web presence is strong and I’m assuming their app is great. 

“Read About Wetherspoon’s Pub Histories Here”

With this being said, JD Wetherspoon still has more than enough tech at their disposal to facilitate and collaborate with spirits brands to do next generation sampling programs. I’d like to think companies like Shared Spirits will be at the forefront of helping brands accomplish great things with their key on-premise accounts whether those accounts are on social or not. Technology now exists to identify fans and their preferences outside of their social media accounts. Does social make it easier? Yes. It doesn’t always make it better.

Sherman Mohr is Co-Founder and CEO of Shared Spirits. Shared Spirits is a mobile app and software platform built for mobile gifting of cocktails, wine and beer. The Shared Spirits platform automates and tracks sampling programs in new and relevant ways giving brands visibility on sampling program effectiveness.