Tim Collins likes to think he has "the coolest job" at Wells Fargo. As senior vice president of experiential marketing he oversees the company's event and social media strategy, which includes blogs, sponsorships, events, interactive marketing, and online communities. "We create marketing that customers chose to participate in," he says.
Collins' job is to interact with customers wherever they choose to be, on their terms. From a social media perspective, the company operates a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and four blogs related to products, services, and Wells Fargo history. Its most recent blog, the Wells Fargo-Wachovia Blog, provides customers with information about the recent merger. Posts include the explanation of Wells Fargo's vision and value statements and diversity program, clarification on ATM use by Wachovia customers, and historical facts about Wells Fargo and Wachovia. "Our hope is that we're going to retain more customers and that they will feel that Wells Fargo is their trusted financial partner," Collins says of the merger-related blog. "There's lots of customer engagement, which is what we were hoping for."
Collins says he tries to keep up with where customers might be online, but is careful to learn the best approach. For example, the company created a corporate Twitter presence in the summer of 2008, but recently launched a second account, Ask_WellsFargo, staffed by two customer service reps, named Ruby and Kimarie, who personally attend to questions and comments from the more than 1,000 customers following them. The personal touch is something that evolved as part of Wells Fargo's Twitter strategy.
"We observed that brands that used their logo or other corporate icon as their profile picture got less engagement than brands that used a real person," Collins says. "It helps to humanize the brand, and make it more approachable."
Collins says that what makes his job the "coolest" is the ability to create a personal and community bank feel at a company that employs more than 250,000 people across the country. "Technology has helped, and social media in particular, by providing a direct connection to the customer that didn't exist five years ago," he says. "We can get immediate, firsthand feedback when we launch a program or when there's a problem. Sometimes it can be hard to hear because it's very direct, but it's valuable. We've been able to fix problems and build customer relationships, so what's not to like about that?"