Is anyone getting deja vu?
Large corporations tend to venture into social media marketing in the same way that they would approach a press conference or investor relations meeting. Rather than use social media to listen, observe, and communicate, corporate entities self-indulgently preach, extol their virtues, and pat themselves on the back. To companies like JPMorgan, social almost seems to be a way to escape the controversies, the bad press, and the unflattering news editorials. It’s a fresh start where you can preach your status updates to an audience of loyal fans who will happily herald your messages, no strings attached!
JPMorgan is the latest business to demonstrate why this is a terrible approach to take with social media, and especially a public forum like Twitter where brands have even less control than Facebook or LinkedIn. On Wednesday, JPMorgan cheerfully announced a “Twitter Takeover” (it’s funny because takeover is a financial term):
— J.P. Morgan (@jpmorgan) November 6, 2013
If you’re familiar with the #McDStories fiasco, you can tell where this is going. In the span of six hours, the #AskJPM hashtag was hijacked and turned into a barrage of angry, sarcastic, and sardonic questions that had nothing to do with leadership and career advice and everything to do with the very unpopular opinion people have of JPMorgan and big banks in general, which tend to have customer satisfaction levels slightly lower than Internet Service Providers. Some of my favorites (but search for the hashtag, the results are solid gold):
Is it the ability to throw anyone out of their home that drives you, or just the satisfaction that you know you COULD do it? #AskJPM -@ddayen
Could you comment on the rumor that your CEO’s desk is made of orphan tears? #AskJPM -@SimianSam2
How many homeless people did you create in ’08? #AskJPM -@OccupyMedic
JPMorgan promptly ended the campaign with a slightly embarrassing message that only fueled the amount of irate and ironic responses the bank was getting.
As JPMorgan goes back to the drawing board, I hope of the things it considers is that social is not this parallel world that exists outside of reality. The world you cultivate offline is the experience you have in interacting with people (or not interacting with them) online, because online media is intertwined with peoples’ offline lives. A lot of corporate strategists still seem to live by this assumption that people who pay attention to you on the Internet will only have positive things to say to you because they don’t live in the real world. I just talked about how, to win people over on social networks, you need to take a much deeper look at your policies, culture, and sense of ethics and responsibility. There are no shortcuts, and you can’t be arrogant enough to assume that people are just going to forget about your dirty laundry.
Whether or not JPMorgan actually learns from this is another matter. In all likelihood, they’ll probably just miss the point and impose tighter restrictions on their own social media activity.