A small question turns into a massive blunder.

by sn2s

JPMorgan Chase & Co. bank tweeted on November 13 that the vice president would be answering twitter questions on the next day, November 14. It backfired.

What started as an effort to connect with Tweeters and offer advice turned into a firestorm of angry, hilarious and strange questions. News sites and blogs reacted to the situation with advice for JPM. People tweeted asking for houses back. Some wondered what the VP’s favorite type of whale was.

JP Morgan’s social media team aborted the Q&A within 8 hours of announcing it.

This isn’t the first time that a big company has blundered on Twitter. Some of the most common blunders are insensitive posts attempting to ride off a tragedy that weren’t thought through very well.

This massive blunder brings an interesting point to light: know your publics. JPM’s media team couldn’t have been unaware of the demonization that large banks have received in the recent years. However, they were unaware of the cruelty of the internet.

I’m not going to talk about how big a fail this was, that part is obvious. I want to focus more on preventative measures for blunders. It’s impossible to please everyone, but it is possible to avoid widespread negative attention.

I think social media teams need to be made up of a variety of people who are able to think on their feet- or fingers. Specialists should be well versed in pop culture, Internet culture, global cultures (if a global company). You should already know about negative attitudes toward your company. Here are tips on avoiding blunders:

-Consider the various publics who will receive their message and of many possible negative responses. Ask a 22-year-old if he or she thinks the message is cheesy.

-Have a 22-year-old (+/-5 years) on your team who understands the internet. He or she represents a large portion of Internet users.

-Consider the size and credibility of publics that dislike your organization. Is it a minor nuisance like PETA that is largely ignored by society at large or a large movement of tech savvy Occupiers?

-Messages should be tested, even if it means running out of the office and asking 10 people on the street. Do people understand the message? Ask them to rate it. Seek people that represent your supportive and supportive publics.

-Search for similar messages that have been posted and consider the sender of the message. Beloved celebrity? Charity organization? Hated MegaCorp? By 2013, there are enough case examples for teams to research.

Consider possible fire extinguishers if your post seems risky.

-If a post seems risky, don’t post it! Avoid tragic topics altogether unless you are saying something you would say to a family member of the tragedy. Clearly, “look at this phone,” is a bad idea. (AT&T self-plugging on 9/11)

-Be aware of existing themes that might be using the same hash tags. Aurora might be the name of your company’s new dress, but your dress isn’t the reason it’s trending.

-Be aware of cultures if you are primarily tweeting to a foreign public.

-Once it’s on the Internet, it stays on the internet forever.

Remember these things and you’ll be sure to avoid getting fired.