If you were going to draw up a list of industries that are at high risk for the kind of spiraling-out-of-control negative social buzz epidemics that makes PR people hyperventilate, banking would probably be pretty high on the list: between the bailouts, the almost negative interest rates, and the nickel-and-diming fees, most people are less than ecstatic about banks, bankers, and everything related to them.
So it’s probably a smart move for Wells Fargo & Co. to create “social reputation command centers,” based in San Francisco and Charlotte, as reported by the Charlotte Business Journal. The Wells Fargo social media teams will monitor social platforms like Facebook and Twitter in order to track social media sentiment and respond to emerging reputational threats, but also to improve customer service and determine what marketing messages are resonating with consumers.
The news comes as New York State prepares a multi-billion lawsuit against Wells Fargo over mortgage settlements, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile Wells Fargo may -- or may not -- be looking to spruce up its image with a new marketing push, possibly from a new agency: over the weekend Mediabistro.com reported that the bank is putting its lead agency account, currently held by DDB, into review, with a spokesperson providing the following, typically cryptic non-explanation: “As we continue to evolve our brand to align with our growing business and broader marketing and brand strategies, it is the right time to explore agency options.”
Wells Fargo isn’t the first big banking concern to create a social media command center: in December 2012 National Australia Bank unveiled a mission control-style command center in Melbourne.
Late to the game in my opinion, but it's never too late to start doing social media "better". The challenge WF will have, and all big businesses will have, is not social media itself, but the fact that it has so many front line employees that need to learn how to give better customer service.
And Chase recently moved its social team into a high-profile, high-visibility social media command center in its Columbus headquarters: http://blog.mlinc.com/financial-services-2/the-importance-of-social-at-chase/
It's definitely becoming more of an imperative for financial services companies to stay on top of social conversations and (hopefully) integrate the lessons and intelligence into their overall strategies!