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Wells Fargo / Wachovia Blog: Lessons On How Blogs Are Still A Powerful Tool

Submitted by on January 13, 2009 – 10:31 pm33 Comments

Blogging may seem old hat – but it can still be a powerful tool for a company.  Consider the recent Wells Fargo / Wachovia merger blog… A merger blog?  Yes, a blog all about the impending merger of Wells Fargo and Wachovia.   It sounds boring as hell to me but if you are a customer, an investor, a front line employee — well, then it might very well be of great interest.  I saw this on its first day because the social media circles were talking about the nifty comments box that appeared at the top of the blog (as opposed to just at the bottom).
But after a few days the blog got a whole lot more interesting and illustrative of the best that a blog has to offer in terms of reaching out to stakeholders, listening and connecting.

It begins with a simple, Obama-esque post

Once Matt introduces himself, he is clear on his intent:

The blog is about the merger and how it will affect customers of both banks (and employees)…  The comments came in fast and furious…  There are the standard “good for you” comments:

But many of the posts begin asking some serious questions about how the merger will affect bank policy and services.  Some of these are simple (below) and some get very complicated.

Interspersed in the comments Matt and a few others are responding and answering questions:

There are people who think the blog is an extension of the soulless corporate leviathan (my words not theirs):

Matt Wadley lets it stay (good move) and doesn’t respond (they aren’t asking for a response – just an airing of complaint…) As with many healthy blogs that have a good sized audience there are critics but also defenders:

Finally, if anyone is thinking of adding a comment Wells/Wachovia have made their guidelines clear right where you comment.  Including the request that all employees disclose their affiliation.

In Summary, these are some of the good practices shown on this single post:

  • Let your personality show
  • Have a clear focus
  • Listen well and respond to comments
  • Allow reasonable, negative comments (unless profane etc.)
  • Be transparent about your subject matter
  • Use “real” language when addressing business issues
  • Make your commenting terms clear

While these practices (and others) have been well covered in books like Scoble and Israel’s Naked Conversations — I thought that this single post summarized a lot about how blogs work (and why).  I encourage you read through it (here is the link again) – there is a lot there….

This post once again reminds me that these social tools (blogs, wikis, social networks etc.) have nothing to do with technology -after all blogs are a one-click operation to set up… These tools are about shifting the dialogue from corporate-to-customer to person-to-person.  In that shift there are so many things that a corporation isn’t used to (loss of power, shift in tone and the move from business contract to the social contract).   More on that in the upcoming post:  Relationships beat Transactions.

33 Comments »

  • Sherri Neasham says:

    A great illustration of best practices, Josh. Thanks for bringing it to light and presenting it so clearly.

  • I intensely hate corporate propaganda, so when I started reading this post, I immediately got riled up that you were praising some corporation for good blogging practices. But by the end you convinced me that corporate blogs can be more than just pure propaganda. This is good textual analysis you’ve done here.

    What makes me so suspicious of corporate blogs is the prevalence of branding that tries to make huge corporations sound like real people, which is just a smokescreen to obscure the inhuman aspects of corporations. But the Wells Fargo blog isn’t trying to convince me that Wells Fargo wants to be my new best friend. It has more modest and realistic goals, expressed in the seven items you list at the end, which display a more sophisticated understanding of what’s important in blogging, for example, comment guidelines for employees that emphasize being very clear to disclose any affiliations with the company.

  • Firestorm says:

    hey. great article about blogging. We’re from a small town on the Emerald Coast in Florida and getting companies locally to understand the potential benefit to blogging is impossible at best. Yet all local business owners go online and read other blogs. Interesting conundrum. blogging is not an old hat down here anyway.

    communication is communication, though, right? wells fargo is paying Mr. Wadley to blog… which means they are paying attention to a segment that appreciates this type of facility for communication… and given the size of that burgeoning segment, that is a good business move.

    @Hastings Hart
    nice observation. setting expectations from the start is good practice.

  • Josh, Thanks so much for taking the time to evaluate our blog, and for your thoughts. We’ve been blogging for almost 3 years now, but this blog is really taking off. We felt it was a great opportunity humanize the Wells Fargo brand for Wachovia customers, who may not be familiar with us. We’re answering lots of questions, and so I feel we’re adding value to customers on a platform they’re comfortable with.

    Cheers!

  • Joshua-Michéle says:

    Firestorm – I feel your pain – and it isn’t just in a small town in FLA! It’s everywhere. The changes are big for any business that isn’t used to a level of customer intimacy.
    Ed Terpening — Awesome use of Listening beats Talking!! You guys are out there checking in on the pulse of the blogosphere. Thanks so much for reinforcing the integrity of your social media group. It is much appreciated.
    Josh

  • […] to engage existing customers. After reading Joshua-Michele Ross‘ post recently, on the Wells Fargo/Wachovia merger blog, I was excited to see yet one more company prepare to engage customers in this […]

  • […] to engage existing customers. After reading Joshua-Michele Ross‘ post recently, on the Wells Fargo/Wachovia merger blog, I was excited to see yet one more company prepare to engage customers in this […]

  • zuca ducka says:

    Neighbors: Exec. moved into bank-owned beach home
    Neighbors: Wells Fargo exec. moved into beach home surrendered to bank by Madoff-duped couple

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Neighbors-Exec-moved-into-apf-818362254.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=5&asset=&ccode=

  • Kelli Garner says:

    Really nice posts. I will be checking back here regularly.

  • Joshua-Michéle says:

    LittleSis –
    This is a great post and piece of reporting. Social networks can revelatory… Just knowing the associative ties among the boards of directors. Thanks for the link.

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  • jj says:

    I would love to think creatively in this economy and our government has assisted us in this notion. The IRS has shared the good news that owner financed arrangements will be rewarded for those with wounded credit by allowing this arrangement to be included in the tax credit group. Congress has done its part to encourage wannabe homeowners that are often young people with credit mistakes…

    I would like to do my part by entering into an owner finance with a responsible young couple; however, WELLS FARGO MORTAGAGE COMPANY has informed me that they will excercise the Due-on-Sale clause if I do this… meaning I cannot owner finance these young buyers or WELLS FARGO will call the loan due.. and I am stuck with a house I can't sell

    SHAME ON YOU WELLS FARGO for counteracting everything the government and our people are tyring to do for each other in these trying

  • jj says:

    would love to think creatively in this economy and our government has assisted us in this notion. The IRS has shared the good news that owner financed arrangements will be rewarded for those with wounded credit by allowing this arrangement to be included in the tax credit group. Congress has done its part to encourage wannabe homeowners that are often young people with credit mistakes…

    I would like to do my part by entering into an owner finance with a responsible young couple; however, WELLS FARGO MORTAGAGE COMPANY has informed me that they will excercise the Due-on-Sale clause if I do this… meaning I cannot owner finance these young buyers or WELLS FARGO will call the loan due.. and I am stuck with a house I can't sell

    SHAME ON YOU WELLS FARGO for counteracting everything the government and our people are tyring to do for each other in these trying

  • jj says:

    would love to think creatively in this economy and our government has assisted us in this notion. The IRS has shared the good news that owner financed arrangements will be rewarded for those with wounded credit by allowing this arrangement to be included in the tax credit group. Congress has done its part to encourage wannabe homeowners that are often young people with credit mistakes…

    I would like to do my part by entering into an owner finance with a responsible young couple; however, WELLS FARGO MORTAGAGE COMPANY has informed me that they will excercise the Due-on-Sale clause if I do this… meaning I cannot owner finance these young buyers or WELLS FARGO will call the loan due.. and I am stuck with a house I can't sell

    SHAME ON YOU WELLS FARGO for counteracting everything the government and our people are tyring to do for each other in these trying times

  • sandyxxx says:

    and secondly,the frequency you update is too high .we are so excited of that .maybe cause that we forget to comments..:)..

    Hot deals

  • sandyxxx says:

    and secondly,the frequency you update is too high .we are so excited of that .maybe cause that we forget to comments..:)..

    Hot deals

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  • Dave says:

    They did it to me today, ex. credit score and no late payments. All the paper work I did for nothing. Took them one hour to say, SORRY WE WON”T HELP YOU. Time to move on and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

  • louis arena says:

    it seams there is no slowing exec bonuses e.g. wells latest exec compensation. the gov't bailout carries no influence on greed.after refiing from 5.8% to 5.6% i was assured it could be repeated if rates continued to drop ,only to be shot down by a series of customer service people.this comes after a ten year working relationship with wells fargo.something to think about

  • ca says:

    What about the old Wachovia employees, that are now Wells Fargo. I have found Wells Fargo to be the most unprofessional company I have ever worked for. I think the Wells Fargo team members thought Wachovia people were going to come in and take over. They have shown us no respect and haven't been friendly, kind or caring. Talk about the Wells Fargo culture, it's crazy. They only care about sales (solutions). All the managers talk to each other but when it comes to speaking with the tellers watch out, you would think they thought they could catch something from us. There is such a division between management and the tellers. It's been so unwelcoming that out of ten Wachovia employees there's only three left. One employee is still on medical leave because of her anxiety and depression cause by other Wells Fargo team members, including management. I have anxiety everyday going to work. I have never been treated so badly in my life.

  • joshuamross says:

    Wow – that is an appalling condition to work in – and I am sorry. Interestingly enough most mergers are made on the basis of “the hard stuff” – strategy and finance… while most fail due to the “soft stuff” people, culture and leadership….

  • sam says:

    Trust me I'm well aware how stressful it is working at wf,unfortunately it's that way even if your not coming from Wachovia.It's truly all about sales and they make you feel like just another number.The money and benefits keeps most employees there but most are hating their jobs!!! I've watched so many good team members get let go and it seems like the only ones that have job security is management.I'm just hoping all banks aren't like wf.

  • KatherineRBrownton says:

    My family has been visiting Spanish Wells, Bahamas since 1999. To arrive to this fabulous slice of wells fargo bank locations paradise, we fly into the the North Eleuthera, Bahamas airport (ELH), and then take a ground taxi to the North Eleuthera dock, called Gene's Bay. From there we board a five-minute ferry in anticipation of our arrival to the Spanish Wells town dock. While riding in the ferry, I am always enamoured by the sparkling turquoise sea as I approach the unique fishing village with the pastel colored homes and fishing boats. I am amazed at the size and beauty of some of these fishing boats at the dock. Lobster fishing is the primary industry of the locals here, and Spanish Wells is known as the “lobster capital” of the Bahamas. Although the fishermen here are prosperous, it is very hard work.

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    I want to race my Eclipse against other cars in Atlanta,Ga but I don't want to risk street racing. Is there mabe a race track or sometihng, where I can take my car and have no traffic or cops and race legaly???

  • […] to engage existing customers. After reading Joshua-Michele Ross‘ post recently, on the Wells Fargo/Wachovia merger blog, I was excited to see yet one more company prepare to engage customers in this […]

  • Cawa says:

    Has anyone used Raymour and Flanigan for furniture? Save yourself some big $$$$ . I was told I would get a credit card apr based off my credit score. Imagine my surprise when Wells Fargo sent me the first statement with an apr of 27.99%!!! When I spoke to a Wells Fargo rep, and I quote, “The limit of your line of credit is based on your credit score, however, the apr is fixed.” What a crock!!! I will not be dealing with Wells Fargo anymore or Raymour and Flanigan.

  • Jmaches54 says:

    As a former Wells Fargo / Wachovia team member in Bethlehem, PA, I feel that the company is divided. There is the Wachovia Bank that was second to none in customer service and customer loyality. Then there is the Wells Fargo division. What makes a company great and grow is it's devotion to it's customers. This is not the case with Wells Fargo. In the Wells Fargo world there is sales sales sales. None of the how do I help my customer? Let me say here and now I am not a disguntled former employee. I saw a change in the company away from customer service to selling more and more products. I watch my financialy challanged customers from having a little money, to having less money, to owing the bank money in overdraft fees. There where times that after I got off the phone I would cry. Now the shift is away from the adverage person on the street to the welthy customers. It's a shame that this is happing to a company that I use to believe in, and who I told all my friends and family about.

  • A good blog will always help with communications between all stake holders. Wachovia and Wells Fargo did a particularly good job since Wells Fargo was kinda the pioneer when it comes to social technologies adoption. If I'm not mistaken, they started all their blogs circa 2005 and was the first financial institution to run with the new technologies.

  • Ted says:

    Why isn't there a major uproar on how Wells Fargo is taking the funds out of your account on the 2-5 days before an e check is to be paid!?!?  That is equivalent to them taking the money out of your account on the day you write a check.  The money shouldn't come out of your account until the check clears!  My money is going over to PNC immediately.

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