An Interview with Ed Terpening of Wells Fargo

Ed Terpening Ed Terpening is the Vice President of Social Media Strategy at Wells Fargo. He joined the bank in 2006. In this interview Ed shares his thoughts on Social Media and offers insights into how Wells Fargo uses it.

1. What drove the adoption of social media at Wells Fargo and what is the strategy?
First, we listened very carefully to understand the types of conversations that were occurring, and then we considered how and when our participation would add value to the customer. We developed an approach that both allows direct participation in the community but also the ability to take any personal or account-specific conversations offline, to protect the customer’s privacy and security.

2. Is there a specific team dedicated to social media and is it to have one group focusing on it?
Yes, within Wells Fargo’s Enterprise Marketing group, under Experiential Marketing. It is very important to ensure a holistic strategy and implementation that unifies the Wells Fargo brand across social media/networking platforms.

3. What is the role of individual bank branches in the social media strategy?
Our social media programs offer us a unique way to connect our bank store team members with the customers they help every day: Through our monitoring program, we often come across a tweet about a customer’s positive experience with a specific team member/bank store, and we are able to share that feedback with the store team.

4. What guidelines do you have to determine how to respond to mentions?
We address varying topics, from mobile banking to history. We find topics where Wells Fargo can add unique value and perspective to the online conversation. The key questions we ask about topics we consider are: “Can we add unique value?” and “Will this improve the customer experience?” and “Does it help our customers succeed financially?”

Whether positive or negative, our goal is to reach out, acknowledge and thank our customers for expressing their experiences with Wells Fargo. For customer account or service issues, when appropriate, we refer customers to a secure customer service channel for assistance.

5. How do you measure the success of your social media programs?
We follow the results of our engagement by reading follow-up posts/comments written by the customer, as well as checking the results of their phone bank engagement if they were assisted in reaching customer service. We also seek to measure the overall sentiment of Wells Fargo as measured by consumer posts on social networks.

6. What is a recent social media program that worked well?
After the merger with Wachovia was announced in late 2008, we launched the Wells Fargo-Wachovia Blog in January 2009. Knowing that our customers were increasingly using blogs and social tools to communicate and hold conversations, we were able to create a resource for them to find the information they need, ask questions and even express concerns in a forum where we could be part of that conversation and provide appropriate and timely responses. We want to be where our customers are.

7. What mistakes have been made?
Not really a mistake, but we opted to use MySpace as the focus of our initial social network program – obviously we’ve since transitioned to Facebook and Twitter. In general, we’ve found that while there is always risk and challenges associated with a transparent and open engagement strategy, the benefits, in the form of customer service/experience and brand exposure, will consistently override the hic-cups along the way.

8. What are your biggest concerns around social media?
Given that social media is a public forum, we have to carefully consider our approach to maintain customer privacy and security. In cases where assistance requires personal information, we help the customer reach established, secure channels to answer their questions. Given that we have many service channels (phone, store, online, ATM), we need to ensure the customer service experience is of consistent, high quality.

9. What are your biggest opportunities around social media?
Continuing to build a cross-platform, cross-enterprise strategy that keeps our customers’ privacy and financial success at top of mind while still providing fresh content and relevant engagement.

10. How do you see your social media strategy evolving over the next few years?
To some degree we are all at the mercy of general social media trends. To predict our strategy a few years out would require us to predict what the next popular social network may be: something that we all wish we could do but in reality requires a wait and see approach. For now, we remain focused on developing social media programs that allow us to engage our customers, and potential customers, in a positive way that reflects our company’s overall vision: satisfying our customers’ financial needs and helping them succeed financially.

Those are my two cents what are yours?

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