JPMorgan, Twitter trolls and knowing your audience

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

JPMorgan, Twitter trolls and knowing your audience

If JPMorgan Chase’s ill-fated Twitter Q&A tells us anything, it’s this: Have a plan and know your audience.

For those of you who may have missed this week’s Twitter trolling shenanigans, the bank was forced to cancel a Twitter Q&A session following a tirade of abuse from thousands of angry punters. I say punters because many of these guys weren’t actually the firm’s customers and they weren’t playing to a closed theatre – one of the many problems brands face when dealing with the medium.

JPMorgan is still dogged for its part in the financial crisis of 2008 and has been heavily criticised since its $13bn settlement for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities as well as its $6 billion London Whale trading losses.

So when the firm decided to run a Twitter-based Q&A in the public domain its fair to assume that it might expect a bit of trolling and that someone had considered the possibility of a Twitter backlash, right?

Fast-forward to the firm’s post on Twitter asking users to send in questions marked with the hashtag #AskJPM, and the reaction to a brand that is struggling to rebuild its reputation was swift.

“What's your favorite type of whale? #AskJPM,” asked one disaffected punter.

‘Quick! You’re in a room with no key, a chair, two paper clips, and a lightbulb. How do you defraud investors? #AskJPM,’ quipped another.

Even editors and columnists were seen to be getting in on the act, anonymously of course.

"Reading the #AskJPM Twitter feed makes it seem JPM put a 'kick me' sticker on its back when it rolled out that hashtag," said one commentator.

No wonder then that at least two-thirds of 80,000 tweets sent using the hashtag #AskJPM were negative, according to Topsy.

Even less of a surprise was the announcement that followed from JPMorgan that said, “Tomorrow’s Q&A is cancelled. Bad Idea. Back to the drawing board.”

So, what lessons can be learned from social media mistakes such as this? Well, given the negativity surrounding the brand and a very public trial by media and customers alike, it seems difficult to see how those behind the communications planning thought they might avoid what was in effect a very public pistol whipping. Public sentiment towards the firm has hardly been favourable of late and JPMorgan seemed to forget one of the most obvious of points – that playing to an open social network, such as Twitter, means you cede control to the public. In other words, anything can happen. Remember the #AskBG hashtag that went out the day British Gas announced a price hike?

Of course, any brand taking to social media should analyse the risk of doing so. This means identifying your risks, knowing what they are and understanding their possible impact upon your brand and business as a consequence, whilst at the same time taking steps to mitigate these. List these things out and try and plan for every eventuality. Should this see you discovering areas of reputational weakness or products that could be called into question, then have a plan of action that takes these into account and shows what steps you’ve taken to address them. Excellent customer service and honesty is certainly one way of turning around your audience. Oh and a little bit of humility never went amiss either.

Oh and one last thing, knowing your audience means knowing what people are saying about you online, so make sure you are tracking your brand. There are lots of options here, but free ones include Google Alerts, Hootsuite, Social Mention and Tweetdeck, whilst a variety of paid options for social media monitoring include tools such as Brandwatch, Radian 6 and Socialbakers, allowing you real time in-depth analysis of what’s happening around your brand.

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