JP Morgan on the other hand showed how a company can step on a social media version of a humongous cowpat.
Some bright spark in the JP Morgan marketing and communications department (or whatever it is they call it there) thought that they might start cleaning up their slightly tarnished reputation by having a “conversation” on Twitter with the proletariat.
Oopsy, it didn’t turn out quite like they hoped.
So it was that JP Morgan wanted Twitterdom to ask them questions and the good people on Twitter unsurprisingly obliged. The result was swift, venomous and often humorous.
Here are a few examples:
@ReformedBroker I have Mortgage Fraud, Market Manipulation, Credit Card Abuse, Libor Rigging and Predatory Lending AM I DIVERSIFIED? #AskJPM
@kcm74 Did you always want to be part of a vast, corrupt criminal enterprise or did you "break bad"? #AskJPM
@alexisgoldstein Is the fact that you've paid over half a billion in fines since August a source or pride, or are you embarrassed it's not higher? #AskJPM
@LoftusCharlotte #AskJPM Is it true that, while you don't always spit on poor people, when you do, you have perfect aim?
@ddayen Will the firm explore new markets, like selling candy-backed securities to babies w/o disclosing the lack of chocolate in the bonds? #AskJPM
So why did this come as such a shock to JP Morgan? How did they not see this coming? There are a few reasons for this.
Firstly their highly paid marketing team is incompetent. This is not uncommon these days as most major company marketing teams have people in charge that came up around way before social media. Hence they still think that communications work in the way that the corporation sends out the message and the proletariat oblige with deference. Many of these people don’t even use social media themselves. Remember, most financial institutions actually block social media access, which really tells you all you need to know.
Secondly corporations (just like political parties) are funny things, they can be cult like. The people working for them tend to mix with only people from their own company and their own sector. Hence their perception of the outside world differs vastly from… well the outside world. This is one of the reasons JP Morgan messed up so bad. They simple have no idea that 99% of the public see them as real life monsters. How otherwise do you explain a group of well educated, highly paid people making such an epic blunder?
The thing you must remember is that a big corporation never comes out publicly with anything without at least having a whole bunch of meetings. The #AskJPM debacle is the result of several meetings between top managers and subordinates. It wasn’t a one person project. People have sat around drinking coffee, munching on donuts and together, they’ve come up with this “great” idea. Once they had gotten the okay to proceed I’m sure plenty of well-paid marketing executives left the meeting room smiling and proud of themselves. In man hours alone, this debacle must have cost hundreds and thousands of dollars.
The thing is, when it comes to social media, for a business it is an extension of their brand/image/identity. JP Morgan’s brand is that of a pariah and an amoral organisation run by sociopaths wearing Patek Phillipe watches.
Until they improve their image they will continue to be slaughtered on social media and that’s exactly what JP Morgan got.
So what is a financial institution to do? Should they stay away from social media? Absolutely not, they can’t afford to stay out (although many still think they can). Legislation is changing and within the next five years we will see new disruptive businesses come in who will use social media and eat the lunch of the big boy banks. How exactly that will happen I don’t know, but it will happen and you’ll have read it here first. (That’s what disruptive is, it’s unpredictable)
What financial institutions need to do is have a constant presence on social media. When a crisis hits they have a support base that they can muster into action to support them. (Provided they have been nice, authentic, engaging, consistent and present often.)
For example a simple thing like a twitter feed would also get positive tweets from loyal followers, thus decreasing the negative effect. It wouldn’t completely eliminate the negative effects, but it would diminish them.
Point being, you can’t get active in times of crisis, you have to be active before and at all times, so that when a crisis hits, you have tools to manage the crisis. Otherwise you are blindsided, just like JP Morgan.