J.P Morgan Twitter Debacle Highlights Need to Understand Audience and Social Media


One purpose of Twitter is to allow anyone to mingle with celebrities and some of the world’s largest corporations – say, for example, JPMorgan Chase & Co., America’s largest bank by assets. Unlike at JPMorgan’s headquarters, there are no security guards on Twitter keeping watch over who speaks their mind to company execs. Unfortunately, JPMorgan learned the hard way about social media communication and understanding your audience.

In November 2013, JPMorgan tweeted, “What career advice would you ask a leading exec at a global firm? Tweet a Q using #AskJPM.” Their intent was to give economics students the chance to ask legitimate questions of a JPMorgan senior executive. But that’s not how Twitter works. Instead, a deluge (6,000 responders in less than six hours) of pretty much everyone except eager econ majors responded to the request with sarcastic rhetorical questions, making #AskJPM go viral, but not in the way JPMorgan had hoped.

“Do you feel bad for ripping me off every month for charging me over 10% on a car loan & rejecting me when I apply for a credit card?” and “Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?” and “Did you always want to be part of a vast, corrupt criminal enterprise or did you ‘break bad’?” and “Why is JPMorgan foreclosing on my neighbor after she’s paid for her house 4 times over?”

In the wake of a recession largely caused by the irresponsibility of banks, many customers have a negative impression of JPMorgan. With that in mind, it probably wasn’t the time for JPMorgan to solicit comments on social media. Even a company like McDonald’s that sells something tangible like tasty French fries has been bitten by taunts through social media communication because the company intentionally solicited attention that ended up backfiring.

The moral of the story: Twitter is raw, uncontrolled, and unfiltered. Understanding your audience is critical before you take the leap and start soliciting attention. To learn more about how written communication on social media can affect your firm, contact us today!