Sign of the Times: Wells Fargo & Wachovia launch a Merger Blog

While most corporate blogs aren’t trusted, it’s refreshing to see a new type of blog appear to meet the needs of transparency, non-pitching, and openness with the community –yet meet the business needs of the corporations.

I used to work for World Savings (Intranet redesign), which was acquired by Wachovia (I’m a customer), who is now merging with giant Wells Fargo, an outgrowth from all the turmoil in the financial sector the last few years. Wells Fargo has a long history of being best in class as a financial institution that understands social, and Wachovia has dipped their toes with Twitter, but is now jumping on board, espicially during times of scrutiny.

What’s the best way to win back trust? Wells Fargo and Wachovia have launched a blog called The Wells Fargo – Wachovia Blog with a kick off post from the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf.

This is the first social media property that I’ve seen that is focused on a merger. What should we expect from this blog? While I don’t officially know, obviously this content will have to shift to something new after the merger is completed, perhaps they could focus on a community platform? Having videos that shows behind the scenes how the teams are working together to improve the customer experience would also be helpful. The more material shown that shows how the experience is going to improve for me as a Wachovia customer is key, prove to use that this is good for customers.

Give the economic situation will only get worse, what other creative social media deployments should we see next? I’ll make a few predictions: 1) A corporate blog focused on helping those who were laid off find new jobs 2) A community site hosted by a corporation that helps laid off employees connect with others. 3) A variety of online communities appear for alumnus of companies.

  • http://hooversbiz.com Tim (@Twalk) Walker

    Thanks for pointing to this, Jeremiah. The low trust ratings for corporate blogs overall certainly gives us reason to pause and think about the type and tone of the messages being conveyed in them. But savvy companies won’t let the overall lack of trust dissuade them from *building* trust, one channel at a time, through better-conceived, better-executed blogs. It looks to me like WF may be on the right track with this one.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Right Tim, if a reader suspects that the blogger is ‘hawking’ something then they’re less likely to take it at face value.

    On the other hand, when I read John Schwartz blog, I know he’s obviously pro-Sun, so I expect nothing less from him. But in my mind, I know he’s not being objective –but he is being credible to what Sun is offering.

  • http://www.constructivegrumpiness.com Len Kendall

    Great to see more examples of social media in the financial sector. Smart investors should all over these kinds of environments as it will point out important news, possibly sooner than the CNBC and WSJs of the world.

  • http://blog.wellsfargo.com/wachovia Tim Collins

    Ed Terpening and I work together at Wells Fargo. Thanks for the great suggestions. As we researched the blog, we did come across one other merger blog in the Canadian steel industry: http://www.arcelormittal.tv/ They are still posting new content months after the merger.

  • http://www.NewSalesEconomy.com Chad Levitt

    Thanks for the blurb on this Jeremiah. It’s very interesting to see companies beginning to use social media platforms to engage customers and build trust in their brands again. Although there is a ton of work and learning to do on everyone’s behalf, each small step forward brings us closer to a more authentic, interactive and engaging customer experience.

    @Twalk- I believe companies will learn how to use blogging as a platform correctly in the future. The fact that many use it so poorly now is an opportunity for the companies that get it to make a move. What do you think?

  • http://blog.wellsfargo.com Ed Terpening, VP Social Media, Wells Fargo

    Thanks, Jeremiah, for your feedback on our new blog. We’re really encouraged this first day (the comments are coming in faster than we can process).

  • http://adlandireland.blogspot.com/ Nick McGivney

    Cheers Jeremiah. For some time I’ve been curious as to how corp. blogging might go for something as ultra-cautious and personal for customers as the banking sector. In Ireland it’s not happening at all just yet, so this is definitely a case study to watch. Thanks for pointing.

  • http://debbiefoster.net Debbie Foster

    Hi Jeremiah,

    Glad to see corporate America is starting to use the blog platform. I especially like your idea of connecting people to jobs in an open format.

    Many large corporations have a private access site for their laid off employees to facilitate their job search, but putting it in an open access format would benefit so many more.

    Thanks for the thoughts,
    Debbie

  • http://www.ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

    This is great news, but not surprising. After all, of all of the banking blogs I’m aware of, Wells Fargo is the only one with about half a dozen blogs, not to mention one dedicated to student loans.

    Bank of America? Yeah right.

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  • http://www.selectminds.com Steve Kuhn

    Thanks for the post Jeremiah. In reference to your last paragraph, my company’s been building social networks for our clients’ alumni populations for about nine years now. And yes, sad to say, that has made us a central player in the instances where our clients experience a reduction in force, thus expanding the ranks of their alumni.

    The idea is: alumni social networks are a good resource for those alumni to make connections with each other and engage with other outplacement services a client may make available. And our clients are able to continue their outreach to this community; tapping them for business development, maintaining a positive brand presence and providing access to a ready source of qualified talent when times improve.

    I expect that in 2009 we will see growing interest from companies wanting to maintain the best possible relations with their downsized employees, the better to leverage those relationships when the economy picks up again (hopefully soon!).

  • Mike

    I’ve read the first few days of posts on the WF-W blog. My first reaction is that it reads like any other corporate cheerleader. It has the forced breezy style of people who’ve never blogged before, reading more like a press release than an objective analysis of the issues. What does the merger mean for existing and prospective customers? Will employees be hurt by the merger? How will vastly different corporate cultures be integrated? What services will be offered to set the new firm apart from its competitors? Will the blog allow open participation by those not hewing to the corporate line, much less active dissent?

    Only if if it’s a truly open marketplace of ideas will the blog have credibility rather than be seen as merely a promotional vehicle for management.

  • http://blog.wellsfargo.com Ed Terpening, VP Social Media, Wells Fargo

    Mike,

    The blog has a laser focus, on customers. We won’t be talking about investor or employee relations. We felt that to cover everything related to the merger would have been just too much, and we feel a customer focus is the most appropriate approach.

    And we’ve certainly heard from them, and are listening.

    As for our positive tone, why not? The blog isn’t meant to be an industry analysis, but again, focusing on helping customers. Why shouldn’t we keep a positive attitude? Sure, if the integration doesn’t go well, we’ll recognize that and respond appropriately, but in just the first few days of integration I see no reason not to keep things positive.

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  • http://www.constructivegrumpiness.com/ Len Kendall

    Great to see more examples of social media in the financial sector. Smart investors should all over these kinds of environments as it will point out important news, possibly sooner than the CNBC and WSJs of the world.

  • http://www.wellsfargofinancialcom.net/ mrnan

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