Questioning social media

There seems to have been more written about the decision by JD Weatherspoon’s decision to withdraw from social media than any piece of communication activity for a very long time. I have resisted the temptation to get involved in the discussion but have given in now.

Anyone that knows me will realise that I am a fan of social media. I admit to being a little addicted but also enjoying the benefits that it brings to me as an individual. In the past 10 years with the team I have spent a lot of time developing our use of social media at work. It has been really useful for law enforcement. Many people will now contact police through social media who would have avoided contact, and it has helped to break down barriers.

In a crisis situation social media is essential as alongside traditional media it can get a message out really quickly. When your sole focus is on preserving and protecting life then you need to be ready to act and do it quickly.

There are, as we all know, huge problems with social media. It can distort situations, share fake news, support rumour distribution and give another environment for criminal activity.

The growth of social media has seen many companies and organisations jump on-board with little understanding of what they are doing and why. It is the latest thing everyone is doing so businesses feel they have to. I have seen many occasions where companies are doing things with no understanding of what business benefit it brings. My question is why do something if it doesn’t bring anything to the business?

JD Weatherspoon have taken a very interesting decision and I don’t think anyone can know yet what impact it will have on the business. It may mean they are not involved in conversations that take place online, which may in the future damage the reputation. It may mean they aren’t using social media to promote their offers but these are still available on their website. It may mean they miss out on opportunities to engage with new customers.

I will be watching the impact of the development with interest as I can’t think of another major brand that has taken a similar decision in recent years. If the impact is as minimal as Weatherspoon’s thinks then perhaps it will make us all question how and why we are using social media.

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