Another day, another social media marketing campaign gone wrong. Recently, financial giant J.P. Morgan tried and failed to host a Twitter Q&A session due to scathing responses from users. Social media experts note that J.P. Morgan did not take into account the context in which they provided users with this open-ended forum – a reputation crisis and a significant lack of brand loyalty. While the situation is unfortunate for J.P. Morgan, what other brands can learn from this experience is to never plan their social media marketing initiatives without considering the context of the situation and the attitude of their audience.
The #AskJPM Catastrophe
J.P. Morgan’s call to users to tweet their questions for a Q&A session with Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee using #AskJPM seemed harmless enough. However, user backlash immediately ensued, with sarcastic remarks at best and scathing comments at worst.
Many users referenced specific PR crises that J.P. Morgan is currently going through, such as its potential $13 billion legal settlement for bad mortgage loans and the $920 million fine from the “London Whale” trading loss. J.P. Morgan was forced to cancel the Q&A session, calling it a “bad idea:”
Why This Strategy Failed
Why was this marketing strategy so unsuccessful? According to analysts, a few factors came into play. First, J.P. Morgan created a discussion that was too open-ended. Not only was the hashtag much too general, inviting literally any question on any topic, but J.P. Morgan also failed to take into account the fact that it was speaking to the entire Twitter audience, not just its customers.
Second, J.P. Morgan was targeting an audience that is predisposed to reject them. Twitter is made up, in large part, my millennials, and millennials tend to reject brands that do not share the same set of ethics. While financial companies can win millennials over, the relationship has to build first.
In line with this issue, the third reason J.P. Morgan failed was because they lack the brand loyalty that allows other brands on social media to host such open-ended discussions. Especially in the midst of various PR crises, this was neither the time nor the place for J.P. Morgan to host their Q&A session.
How Other Brands Can Do Better
While the damage is done for J.P. Morgan, there are a few lessons to be learned here for brands:
Timing: On social media, timing is everything. Taking a business-as-usual approach to PR crises will always be met with user outrage.
Specificity: When engaging on social media, it is important to be specific about the discussion that you want to have.
Authenticity: If you are going to engage in a major campaign for social media engagement, such as an open Q&A, you need to have a track record of authenticity on that platform.
Transparency: In addition to authenticity, transparency goes a long way in building user trust and loyalty.
How has you brand handled a social media campaign that backfired?
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