JPMorgan Forced To Cancel Twitter Q&A After Onslaught Of Abuse

Q&As on Twitter, where users ask questions and receive answers from popular profiles, have become an effective way for celebrities, brands and persons of interest to raise awareness of themselves, plus (of course) their products and services.

Usually, the Twitter Q&A goes down pretty well. But it doesn’t work for everybody, as JPMorgan found out to their cost yesterday.

It must have sounded great on paper. Jimmy Lee, one of JPMorgan’s senior bankers who worked closely on Twitter’s IPO, was all set to “take over” @JPMorgan‘s Twitter profile on Thursday, receiving questions under the hashtag #AskJPM.

However, by Wednesday afternoon, thousands of Twitter users had rallied around the #AskJPM hashtag to bombard @JPMorgan – and, by association, Jimmy Lee – with abuse. Indeed, Topsy, which analysed the onslaught, estimated that at least two-thirds of the 80,000 tweets sent during the hashtag were negative.

Here’s a few choice examples:

Subsequently, JPMorgan threw in the towel.

Why the response? Investment banks haven’t been seen in the best of lights since the 2008 credit crunch, and JPMorgan has faced particularly strong criticism following its $13 billion settlement for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities. Bottom line, you kind of have to wonder what they were expecting from a Twitter Q&A. Welcome sonny? Make yourself at home? Marry my daughter?

“I think companies sometimes forget that social media belongs to the people,” said Debra Williamson, an analyst at E-Marketer, speaking to the FT. “Consumers have control beyond their wildest expectations. Brands spend a lot of money to try to get something positive to go viral – spread a video around or an ad or a tweet – but all it takes is one misstep.”

Indeed, and this tweet…

… raises a very valid point. Namely, who is at fault here? JPMorgan, for thinking this was all going to work out just fine, or their social media or PR team, who quite possibly pitched this? Who, at the very least, didn’t say, upon first hearing about the idea, “OH MY GOD. ARE YOU INSANE?”

So what’s the lesson here? It’s two-fold, I think. One, people have long memories, and don’t take too lightly to megabanks trying to be their pal, especially when they’ve screwed millions over in the past. And two, while there’s definitely something on Twitter for everybody, what works for one type of profile, one kind of celebrity or one sector of industry, won’t necessarily pay off for you. Alas, sometimes the only way to find that out is to pick up the tab. Which, fittingly, is exactly what JPMorgan has had to do here. Again.

(J.P. Morgan image: Recuerdos de Pandora via Flickr.)