WELLS FARGO: SOCIAL MEDIA CASESTUDYReport by: Julie Delaforce (@joolliee)January 2012
CONTENTS Executive Summary About Wells Fargo Social Media Presence Transparency & Authenticity What does it all mean? Wells Fargo & credibility Blogging & Microblogging Blogs Microblogs Social Media & Crisis Communications Proactive Issues Management Transmedia & Augmented Reality Virtual communities Integrated experience Conclusion
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY For the purposes of this case study I will focus on the following elements of social media engagement:1. Credibility and authenticity2. Blogging & Microblogging3. Social Media Crisis Communications (or issues management / Online PR), and4. Transmedia & Augmented reality
ABOUT WELLS FARGO Wells Fargo is an American bank whose motto is: “Standing together with our customers and communities” (https://www.wellsfargo.com/about). With such a motto the bank has a good outlook to engage well in social media, and indeed has one of the strongest online presences of any bank across the globe.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE Seven blogs Three YouTube channels Facebook pages for various social media presences including a main Facebook page Twitter accounts Virtual world: Stagecoach Island Financial literacy program Mobile sites and applications
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Transparency and authenticity are key to online interactions in social media to build an organisation‟s credibility in the space. Transparency online effectively means being honest and open about what you do as a business Authenticity means being true to what a brand stands for. Combined, transparency & authenticy build credibility because they allow customers to interact with a brand, feeling as though their communications will be both heard and valued.
WELLS FARGO & CREDIBILITY There are several things Wells Fargo does to ensure customers see their efforts as credible. There are the simple things such as: Using the Wells Fargo logo and/or favicon on each of their blogs, Facebook page, YouTube and other social media accounts. This helps users to recognise the „official‟ Wells Fargo social media platforms and enables them to engage with trust. Using an external link icon which shows users when they will be leaving a Wells Fargo site (see image below).
WELLS FARGO & CREDIBILITY Wells Fargo have a publicly stated goal for their social media efforts: “Finding new ways to communicate and help you succeed financially.”(http://blog.wellsfargo.com/wachovia/2009/02/the_wonderful_world_of_social.html).
WELLS FARGO & CREDIBILITY Additionally Wells Fargo have public guidelines which state clearly what is expected of those who participate in the social media platforms. The guidelines can be found here: http://blog.wellsfargo.com/community-guidelines.html. Two of the most important points covered are: How comments are moderated (i.e. filtered by Wells Fargo). This is important in terms of transparency as users are clearly told the rules of engagement. It is important to note that one reason organisations suffer in social media is when they delete „negative‟ customer comments rather than addressing the issues raised. Due to having the public guidelines, customers can rest assured that their queries will be addressed by Wells Fargo Wells Fargo and its employees will not comment on social media platforms unless disclosing their association with the organisation. This helps with authenticity as there will not be any cases of employees writing glowing reviews of Wells Fargo to improve their online reputation – customers are assured that all commentary is authentic.
WELLS FARGO & CREDIBILITY Some blogs also have additional rules of engagement for commenters.
WELLS FARGO & CREDIBILITY For many companies a solid Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy is important to building trust and credibility with their customers, in addition to a good CSR policy, Wells Fargo extend their CSR programs with supporting social media sites such as their Environmental Forum blog http://blog.wellsfargo.com/environment/ and their online financial literacy program: http://www.handsonbanking.org/en/.
WELLS FARGO & CREDIBILITY Overall Wells Fargo is clearly serious about their social media interactions, which is shown in their strong commitment to credibility and authenticity online.
BLOGS Wells Fargo have been blogging since 2006 with seven blogs: “Beyond Today” “Environmental Forum” “Advantage Voice” “Guided by History” “The Student LoanDown” “Wells Fargo - Wachovia Blog” “Stagecoach Island”
BLOGS Wells Fargo use their blogs primarily to educate their customers with valuable information – its blogs are not used solely to promote their own products or news but rather to assist various market segments navigate their financial concerns.
BLOGS Wells Fargo‟s first foray into blogging was “Guided by History” which fits with their motto: “Standing together with our customers and communities” by showing their customers that they are a part of the community and have been for a long time.
BLOGS Other blogs include the “Student LoanDown” which provides information targeted to the many American college students on a variety of topics relating to saving and making the most of the money. This blog also links to information on student loans, showing that Wells Fargo are using blogs to increase their customer base.
MICROBLOGS Wells Fargo also have two Twitter accounts (http://twitter.com/WELLSFARGO and http://twitter.com/Ask_WellsFargo), amassing a combined total of over 27,500 followers (at the time of writing this article).
MICROBLOGS Wells Fargo‟s two Twitter accounts work together very effectively the primary Wells Fargo account used to communicate information about the organisation and their activities the Ask Wells Fargo account used to address customer service queries and issues. Wells Fargo also monitor Twitter for mentions of banking issues which aren‟t specifically directed to them which builds excellent customer relationships.
MICROBLOGS As a testament to how well customer service on Twitter can work for a brand when traditional methods such as email or phone fail, a blog post by Shimon Sandler states that by engaging with Wells Fargo on Twitter. “Within 1 hour I had a full refund of the $158, and it left me with a great feeling about Wachovia & Wells Fargo.”http://www.shimonsandler.com/how-twitter-saved-wells-fargo/
BLOGGING & MICROBLOGGING For Wells Fargo blogs and microblogs work incredibly well to both build their customer base and increase the loyalty and satisfaction of current customers. In addition to addressing concerns on their blogs and microblogs, their online reputation is helped by the many happy customers who go on to make their own blog & microblog posts.
SOCIAL MEDIA & CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS “Today, while customers can act swiftly in digital space - using fast publishing tools like blogs and wikis to amplify their arguments- most brands don‟t have the ability to move as quickly… Brands need to not only have access to the tools, but need to understand Web culture well enough to use the tools as effectively as their customers”. ~Marc Schiller in AdWeek, 2007.www.prinfluences.com.auOnline Reputation: Using pr to protect and enhance the brand.)
SOCIAL MEDIA & CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS The quote on the previous page shows why it is important for brands to have an online issues and crisis management plan. Customers can and will post commentary about brands online via social media publishing tools and with the viral nature of social media it can severely damage an organisation‟s reputation if social media communications are not managed effectively. For the purposes of this case study crisis communications also encompasses issues management and social media usage for PR.
PROACTIVE ISSUES MANAGEMENT Wells Fargo has a proactive issues management plan in place which is evident in their social media communications. In the previous section on blogging & microblogging, above, it was shown that when a customer complained on Twitter, Wells Fargo reacted quickly to resolve it and avoid any further escalation in the social media space. In 2009 Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia, and as part of their proactive issues management a blog was launched to build trust in the „new‟ company for existing customers of both banks via authentic and credible communications.
PROACTIVE ISSUES MANAGEMENT “Welcome! Now that Wachovia is part of Wells Fargo, we know there are going to be a few changes coming, not to mention a lot of information. We understand you are going to have questions and comments about whats going on. Thats why we created this blog – for you, our customers.”http://blog.wellsfargo.com/wachovia/about.html
PROACTIVE ISSUES MANAGEMENT This blog was considered very forward-thinking at the time of launch (now three years ago) In addition to assisting customers to navigate what the merger meant for them (as an exercise in issues management) it also helped with the organisations reputation management several articles were published in relation to the merger blog and Wells Fargo‟s initiative in the social media space.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES As it‟s first foray beyond the 2D online space, Wells Fargo established a virtual community, Stagecoach Island. The objective of this community is to engage students in smart money management in a compelling environment.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES Wells Fargo themselves describe Stagecoach Island as: “An online virtual world created by Wells Fargo for young adults. You can explore the island, connect with friends and make new ones, and learn smart money management.”
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES Stagecoach Island was first launched as a community within the virtual world, Second Life, and has since become a standalone virtual world of its own. (http://news.cnet.com/Wells-Fargo- launches-game-inside-Second-Life/2100-1043_3- 5868030.html). Stagecoach Island is a virtual world where users can create an avatar and participate in the online community.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES Watch a video showing scenes from Stagecoach Island.
VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES There is an ATM where users can open virtual world bank accounts With their virtual bank accounts users can: Go shopping at virtual stores Dine out Take out mortgages to purchase homes Attend events and conduct other activities that mimic real world financial transactions.
INTEGRATED EXPERIENCE The Stagecoach Island virtual world is complemented by a Facebook Page and a blog, which act to both further engage current users and also to attract new users.
CONCLUSION It is apparent from its myriad social media platforms and activities that Wells Fargo have a strong commitment to serving their customers in the social media space. With this commitment and their forward-thinking strategies Wells Fargo are well placed to enter the web3.0 space and face the many challenges of online security and privacy particular to banks with aplomb.