Wells Fargo + Wachovia = 5th Blog for The Stagecoach

“We understand you are going to have questions and comments about what’s going on. That’s why we created this blog – for you, our customers.”
— WF/Wachovia Blog

“One team, twice as strong.”

That’s the slogan on Wells Fargo’s latest online social media effort, The Wells Fargo – Wachovia Blog. Wells Fargo created the blog for customers with questions or concerns about the merger with Wachovia.

The blog promises to provide an “educational and informational resource, as well as a place where you can ask questions, join the conversation, and just get to know us a little better.”

This is at least the fifth blog Wells Fargo has launched. It is widely acknowledged that Wells Fargo has the most active blogs of any financial institution in the world.

The “One team, twice as strong” message Wells Fargo is using for its merger communications is similar to PNC’s take on its takeover of National City: “Two of America’s best-known banks. Now simply one of America’s best.”

“This isn’t a blog at all and is a gimmick.”
— Comment on the
WF/Wachovia blog

Writing responsibilities will be spread among a total of five different bloggers. The inaugural post, published January 2, was authored by John Stumpf, President & CEO/Wells Fargo. Other bloggers will include three brand stewards from Wells Fargo and a communications manager from Wachovia.

There have been four posts from three different authors in the four days since the blog’s launch.

Customers can leave comments and questions on the blog. In fact, one article titled “This Blog Is About You” has received at least 50 comments in the four days since it’s been published.

To facilitate comments, the blog’s designers have conspicuously embedded the comment box in the top-right corner of the latest article.

“How can anyone say ‘great job’ or that it’s ‘authentic’? Give me a break.”
— Comment on the
WF/Wachovia blog

A lot of the comments are positive and supportive, but many look like they come from inside Wachovia or Wells Fargo. Like the one from Ilieva Ageenko, SVP/Wachovia: “The conversation is authentic and personal.”

One Wachovia employee chimed in saying, “Great blog!! Will I have a job next week?? Seems like everyone is awful cheerful.”

Someone else, presumably an employee, asked incredulously, “So….is that it? A couple of company-inspired notes do not constitute a blog. I want this combination to succeed as much as anyone, but propaganda does nothing to make this work any better.”

Key Takeaway: Make sure employees know that if they are leaving a comment at your company blog that they must identify themselves. If they don’t it can (and probably will) backfire…bigtime.

Many of the legitimate comments are about products or services. Most responses to people’s comments and questions simply direct people to a FAQ page about the merger.

Some comments are definitively on the negative side, delivered with the kind of brutal candor one can expect when launching a social media campaign.

“This ‘blog’ is indeed a way to post press releases and make your customers think the two companies are reaching out in an informal way,” one person complained. “This isn’t a blog at all and is a gimmick,” he continued, adding this final dare: “Post this comment and prove me wrong.”

“The comments are only positive and there’s not a single bit of compelling content posted yet,” another person observed. “How can anyone say ‘great job’ or that it’s ‘authentic’? Give me a break.”

Reality Check: Harsh comments come with the territory. If your organization can’t handle this kind of heat, don’t bother blogging.

It’s worth noting that the merger between Wells Fargo and Wachovia just got underway. Most banks would have waited to launch an aggressive communications campaign until decisions had been made and things were more crystallized. By launching this blog now, in the very beginning of the merger, Wells Fargo is opting for a more proactive approach with its customer communications.

Key Question: Will Wells Fargo use feedback provided by customers in the comments of this blog to guide decisions about the merger? Will they listen to Wachovia customers, like Natalie, who begged them, “Please don’t get rid of Way2Save!”

Bonus Questions: How long will Wachovia’s Twitter account survive? And when will Wells Fargo launch a Twitter account?

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