As Wells Fargo’s Director of Internal Communications Arati Randolph is charged with being the brand’s official storyteller. Whether it is sharing stories of community involvement or feel good anecdotes about a teller making a child’s day with a lollipop, Wells Fargo Stories strives to deliver content that customers and readers can make an emotional connection with. We caught up with Arati to hear more about how Wells Fargo is looking at their content strategy and what the future looks like for their branded content channels.
Can you start off by giving an overview of Wells Fargo’s history with content marketing and how the role it plays in your overall communications strategy has changed over the years?
We have had a sound and proactive communications strategy.However as the publishing world has changed with the advent of social media, we see a tremendous opportunity to be our own publisher and tell our story…or stories! My team is called Internal Communications & New Media and for years, we have done a tremendous amount of storytelling internally for our 265,000 team members. And the question I get asked most often by team members is: “Can I share these stories with my family or my friends.” Now that we are publishing those stories for an external audience, the answer is “yes!”
Wells Fargo Stories is very active and covers a wide variety of topics. What goals do you set for the content you publish? How do you measure success and report ROI for your owned content channels?
We have been up and running since March 11. Our goal is to publish new content at least a couple of times a week. We like interesting stories that demonstrate the way we help our customers, our communities and each other. We aim for nice visuals and a powerful narrative. We also built the site to be easily accessible. It is based on responsive design so it looks great and works well on mobile devices. We are certainly measuring hits on the site, engagement, reach, amplification. I can tell you all are trending up since the launch!
How does Wells Fargo Stories support your core businesses?
We are in business to help our customers succeed financially. So every time we tell a story that illustrates how we do that, we are supporting our businesses. The company has a strong set of vision and values – they are outlined in a 41-page booklet and all our team members take them very seriously. The site is organized around key tenets in the vision and values: Helping our customers succeed. Helping our communities thrive. Living our values every day.
What influences the decision to create a separate channel dedicated to content adjacent or unrelated to investing and finance?
Wells Fargo has several external channels that form a substantial content ecosystem. There is terrific content and capability out there on wellsfargo.com and people need to go there to do business with Wells Fargo. That remains a mainstay of how customers interact with the company. What my team is charged with is telling the story of how those interactions online and in person, have helped so many customers achieve their dreams and helped our communities become a better place. Wells Fargo has an incredible culture, one that I think is unique in many ways. Wells Fargo Stories is really about shining a light on that culture.
How do you ensure that your brand maintains a consistent voice across your multiple channels of content?
Wells Fargo does have a distinctive and a storied brand. We have lots of standards we follow around look, feel, language.
Do you strive for a particular balance between content that directly promotes Wells Fargo products and content that highlights the values and culture of your organization?
Luckily, we can do a lot of each. Wellsfargo.com is a fantastic site that you can go to find information on broad range of products and Wells Fargo Stories will only continue adding stories. We have 54 stories on Wells Fargo Stories today. In addition, we are featuring the stories highlighted in our new “Small is Huge” advertising campaign. “Small is Huge” spotlights the human stories of the many local nonprofits Wells Fargo supports, and how small community efforts add up to huge results nationally for the people we serve. These are true stories and Wells Fargo Stories is a natural place for these stories to live.
Can you describe the challenge to create content that appeals to your broad audience with a wide range of financial knowledge and experience?
I think everyone can find a story on Wells Fargo Stories that they can relate to and they enjoy. It is a mix and that is intentional.
Are there types of content that are particularly impactful to your audience? Do posts offering personal finance tips perform better than stories highlighting community involvement, for example?
We are doing a lot of listening right now to see what resonates. We definitely want to be relevant for people.
How do you maximize the reach of your content? Are there strategies that you find to be most effective for connecting with and expanding your readership?
We encourage everyone to share stories they enjoy. Right now we have many communications professionals on Twitter so they are tweeting links to our content regularly. We also work closely with our Enterprise Social Media team to leverage these stories on our Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels.
How does your social strategy fit in with your content marketing efforts?
Our goal is to share content that people want to engage with and share so a robust social strategy is important to complement this.
What goals do you set when creating video content for your YouTube channel? How do you turn a viewer into a Wells Fargo customer?
Again, we want content that is very visual. Video storytelling is a really powerful way tell that human story; some of my favorite video stories are about how we help small businesses — it is cool to see everything from a brewery to a shoe importer to a vet.
The financial services industry is not always viewed as overly approachable by many consumers. In your opinion, has the content you are creating and sharing helped to humanize the Wells Fargo brand?
At the end of the day, we are successful because we help people. We have people who care deeply about all those we touch. The mission of our branded journalism is to tell those stories. My favorite story on the site right now is about a teller, Joe Strother, who made one of our younger customers very happy. Her mother was at the drive thru and her daughter couldn’t decide what flavor lollipop she wanted. So Joe, overhearing this, put several different flavors in the tube and made her day. The mother happened to be a blogger for Forbes.com and wrote about that experience in her blog, I met Joe and what a nice guy he is. And he would say to you that he wasn’t doing anything differently that day; that is what he would do routinely.
How do you see branded content evolving over the next several years in the financial services industry as a whole and at Wells Fargo in particular?
I think branded content is here to stay and my prediction is over the next few years, you will see more and more companies including financial services companies entering brand journalism.
Follow Arati on twitter at @AratiRandolphWF.