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If in doubt, don't #ask

15 November 2013 | 11:53 am

coneTwitter, if approached in the right way, can be a great way to promote your business. Some companies really understand the medium and engage with just the right tone and build an audience through word of mouth. Take Arena Flowers for instance (@arenaflowers; over 18,000 followers). If its tweets ever mention flowers it is always done in an amusing way that pleases its followers. The person who posts on behalf of the company is whimsical, funny and sometimes profound – yet always engaging.

On the other hand the social media teams at some of the larger organisations have made some terrible judgement calls lately. They don’t seem to have an understanding of how their organisations are perceived by the public, and think about the can of worms they are opening for the Twitter birds to feed on, when they attempt to engage on social media.

It’s now in vogue to have a senior member of the company attempting a live Q&A on Twitter. British Gas had its disaster recently when they set up the hashtag #askBG and invited people to engage with its customer services director. The response was predictable. Twitter went into overdrive, with an out-pouring of scorn and sarcasm upon the site.

JP Morgan obviously didn’t follow this social media catastrophe, although it made headlines in the national press. Yesterday they decided to replicate the Q&A idea with a senior investment banker at the helm.

The company cancelled the session after being flooded with insulting questions less than 24 hours before the session was to begin.

In a moment of self-awareness a spokesman for JP Morgan said in an email, which was published in the press:

"Bad idea! Back to the drawing board."


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