Wells Fargo Opens Command Center to Handle Surge of Social Content

Tracks Anywhere From 2,000 to 4,000 Mentions a Day

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Credit: Cotton Delo

Having some version of a social-media command center is becoming like table stakes for brands in 2014.

That's borne out by the fact that a big bank like Wells Fargo -- with a need for cautious risk assessment in its marketing activities that surpasses what a CPG or a retailer would have -- is publishing so much social content that it needs one.

While risk is a consideration for any brand that publishes on Twitter, where gaffes can go viral in minutes, a bank must be even more thorough in its vetting of social content to ensure it complies with financial rules. In that complex regulatory environment, Wells Fargo was on track to publish 16,000 pieces of social content in the first quarter of the year.

Its command center tracks anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 mentions a day.

The bank has a dozen people in San Francisco -- as well as a team of six in Charlotte, N.C. -- to monitor and post to social-media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. (A launch on Pinterest was set for early April.) They sit in front of a bank of TV screens that broadcast mentions of the brand and how social sentiment is trending. The dress code is a lot less formal than standard banker attire; some team members were wearing jeans on a recent Wednesday morning.

Their ranks also include "social-care bankers" who have a customer-service role and help address problems that Wells Fargo customers raise on social channels. If a veteran has a service issue, they might route him or her to a Wells Fargo team focused on veterans, for example.

At their daily morning briefing, the team reviewed top headlines -- on the missing Malaysian flight, the winners of a mega-millions jackpot, and Oracle falling short of earnings expectations -- as well as top stories that were generating social-media mentions of Wells Fargo (like a New York Post piece about the bank allegedly setting up procedures to generate on-demand foreclosure papers.)

It also reviewed content in the pipeline, like posts about retirement planning and the Soldiers to Summits program (which arranges for disabled veterans to go mountain climbing.)

Virtually every piece of content needs approval, and Wells Fargo has a risk manager focused on social in place in Charlotte and is hiring another. The only posts that don't need pre-approval are simple responses from moderators of the "thank you for your post" variety, according to Renee Brown, the bank's director-enterprise social media.

History-related "throwback Thursday"-style content "doesn't require much review," she said. But anything to do with lending services and offers gets vetted by a lawyer.

The command center has already helped the bank mobilize to respond to a rumor about Wells Fargo instituting $5 fees for domestic direct deposits that was circulating online in mid-January. The corporate communications and deposit team put together a statement for distribution on social media. When the rumor flared up again, the social team already had pre-approved content ready for responses.

"A lot of banks don't have our advantage of speed," Ms. Brown said.

People under 32 are a big focus of Wells Fargo's social-marketing efforts. Ms. Brown said the bank is trying to tackle fraught topics like debt.

It's about "how do we take topics that are stressers for people and make bite-sized content that's helpful," she said.

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