Social media banking. Wells Fargo Celebrates its 4 Years of Blogging by Launching its 6th Blog, The Environmental Forum.
On Friday, someone started chatting with me on Facebook while I was uploading some of my latest video interviews on the Visible Banking page. I was delighted to find a few words from Ed Terpening, WF’s VP Social Media who gave me the heads up on Wells Fargo latest social media initiative, hence this post. Thanks Ed! 😉
In the last 5 years, Wells Fargo arguably became one of the most experienced banks worldwide in social media and in dealing with the delicate challenge offered by user-generated content. The bank launched an innovation lab, a few user-generated video contests, and leveraged virtual worlds, twitter, and of course blogs. A couple of years ago, Wells Fargo became one of the founding members of the Social Media Business Council (formerly known as the Blog Council).
I invite you to read some of my previous posts on Visible Banking.
Wells Fargo, the Most Experienced Bank in Blogging
Four years and two days after the launch of their very first blog, Guided by History, Wells Fargo launched the Environmental Forum, its 6th blog, 5 publicly available plus the CEO blog for their commercial banking customers.
In my video interview with Tim Collins, WF’s SVP Experiential Marketing, Tim confirmed that blogging was just an experiment when they launched Guided By History back in March 2006. Very few banks were blogging back then, so the blog was supposed to be temporary and last for roughly three months… In January 2009, they revolutionized the banking world when they launched The Wells Fargo Wachovia Blog to cover the sensitive merger with the two banks… What a journey the Stage Coach has experienced in the past 4 years!
Wells Fargo’s extensive hands-on experience in blogging is second-to-none in the cautious banking world: I highly recommend you check their social media guidelines and their excellent content strategy (12-month editorial line, dozens of contributors from all across the organization, tone of the articles, and info shared which goes far beyond just sharing some news on the bank). Brilliant.
The Environmental Forum
So far, two posts have been published on the blog and the team identified 4 key categories of articles: Customers, Communities, Team members, Operations. This is a good number. The less, the better.
It looks like Wells Fargo has identified 4 key contributors: Mary Wenzel, the director of Environmental Affairs, Ashley Grosh, Project Manager for Environmental Affairs, Krista Van Tassel, Environmental Affairs team, andStephanie Rico who is in charge of external communications and marketing for WF’s environmental efforts.
I enjoy the design of the Wells Fargo blogs, simple with a clear call to action. For the time being, the main call to action on this blog is to visit the bank’s environment affairs and green buildings pages on their corporate website, or download a 7-page pdf document. One must say that the landing page is far from being as sleek as the blog they just left: too much text and so many links to choose from… The Green Buildings page is slighty better though.
Leveraging social media is a great way to give more visibility to existing content on your site as well as existing initiatives from the bank. It gives you a unique opportunity to support your effort using a different tone of voice, and better connect not only with your clients but the american nation. At the same time, you will urge people to get back to you with their comments, their concerns, their ideas.
In the last few years, corporate blogging established itself as one of the most efficient, and cost effective, ways to create conversations and drive brand advocacy.
The Blog Homepage
Just a few words to tell you how much I like the redesigned homepage for the Wells Fargo blogs. It is sleek, simple, and again there is a clear call to action. You are invited to:
* leave your feedback
* follow the bank on the twitter account dedicated to customer support @Ask_WellsFargo (one of the Top 10 most followed accounts on my Visible Banking Twitter Watch with over 1,000 accounts in 60 countries)
* connect on Facebook and MySpace. Historically, WF has never been very active on those social networking sites. Neither has the bank ever tried to launch its own online community, contrary to Bank of America or American Express.
The team listed all the key social media initiatives from the bank. This is essentially their own social media newsroom.
Good Level of Activity and Traffic
Thanks to their commitment to blogging, Wells Fargo consistantly increased the amount of traffic to blog.wellsfargo.com. A year ago, the blogs enjoyed a cumulative 17,000 unique visitors per months. In October 2009, they reached a peak of over 30,000 unique visitors and now they are back to a good 25,000 monthly unique visitors.
Now, I would like to share with you some of the stats from my Visible Banking Blog Watch Series (now I am tracking 199 blogs in 20 countries).
Between September 2009 and February 2010 Wells Fargo published an average of 8 posts on all their four public blogs. Nevertheless, the level of activity varies quite a bit from just a modest 1.18 comments per post on average for the Student LoanDown, up to a 11.18 comments per post on average for the Wells Fargo – Wachovia blog which is one of the highest level of engagement in the industry.
A few most recent commented posts:
* The Wells Fargo Wachovia blog: 35 comments – A comment on your comments, 18 Feb 2010
* The Wells Fargo Wachovia blog: 61 comments – The Mailbag: Your deposit account numbers and Envelope-FreeSM ATMs, 10 Dec 2009
* Guided By History: 40 comments – Caption needed, 06 Jan 2010