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Wetherspoon pub chain shuts its social media accounts

Man drinking pintImage copyright PA

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has used Twitter to tell its 44,000 followers that it is quitting social media.

The firm's head office and 900 pubs will quit the micro-blogging site, alongside Instagram and Facebook with immediate effect, it said.

The pub chain linked the move to bad publicity surrounding social media including the "trolling" of MPs.

"I don't believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever," chairman Tim Martin said.

The firm said its decision had also been influenced by the concerns regarding the "misuse of personal data" and "the addictive nature of social media".

"We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business," said Mr Martin.

He told the BBC he had always thought the idea that social media was essential for advertising was untrue.

"We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers," he said.

The chairman said that it had consulted its pub mangers before making the move, and "90-to-95% felt using social media was not helping the business".

Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent:

It has become received wisdom that a social media presence, used for everything from customer support to promoting the brand, is now a vital tool in the marketing strategy of any business big or small. So why does JD Wetherspoon feel it can do without one?

The pub chain has certainly put plenty of effort in into it until now, with hundreds of different Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. But the truth is that none had won much of a mass following – and those who ran the accounts were doing a very good job. A tweet pushing fish and chips on Good Friday got just three re-tweets.

Managing an effective social media strategy and making sure staff running so many accounts stick to company policy is a very time consuming and expensive business. Perhaps for Wetherspoons all of this effort has become more trouble than it is worth.

The chairman reassured its followers that it would "still be as vocal as ever", but would instead use its magazine and website as well as the press for news updates.

He said customers could also get in touch with them by speaking with their local pub manager.

"It's becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion," Mr Martin added.

The pub chain currently has more than 100,000 Facebook followers and more than 6,000 on Instagram.

Asked whether Wetherspoon's move could start a business trend, Mr Martin said he hoped not.

"Currently we've got a massive commercial advantage because everyone else is wasting hours of their time," he said.

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