Pioneer takes the plunge into social media


While a number of financial services firms are dipping their toes in the social media waters, one institution has taken a giant leap off the deep end.

In the latest edition of FST Media’s CXO video interview series, world renowned social media pioneer Ed Terpening – who is also the Vice President of Social Media Marketing at US-based Wells Fargo – reveals how the banking and wealth management firm has not only embraced channels like Facebook and Twitter, but enlisted a team of bloggers to engage in meaningful conversations with its customers.

Up to 20 Wells Fargo staff have been employed to blog on topics ranging from equity markets to managing student loans.

After initial concerns that customers may not want to participate in conversations with a financial services company, Terpening discovered that they were not only willing to join in discussions, but actually provided his team with valuable insights.

“With blogs we can have deeper conversations with customers,” he says. “We can also select narrow topics. When it comes to Twitter and Facebook, we have to think broader.”

Terpening notes that blogs are more secure than third-party social media as they are hosted on Wells Fargo servers. “Facebook changes its privacy policy, it seems, every few months and discloses more information,” he says.

However, Terpening warns that blogging might not be the right fit for every financial services institution.

“I would urge companies to actually step back and first ask themselves, are they ready to have a conversation,” he says. “There’s no way you can enter social media without thinking about the service side of it.”

He also notes that difficult conversations cannot be avoided. In fact, customers have appreciated the transparency with which Wells Fargo’s bloggers have approached sensitive subjects such as foreclosures.

As for the future of social media, Terpening sees it filtering through all aspects of daily life.
“I think that’s when we know we’ve reached maturity in social media, when we don’t think of it as something separate, as it permeates everything.”

To view Ed Terpening’s CXO video interview, click here.