In Focus Piece on Conversational Marketing

A couple weeks ago, Brad Berens asked me to look into doing an in-depth piece for iMedia on successful blogging programs and how they might be made better. Here's the piece. I chose to look at GM, Sun Microsystems and Wells Fargo for programs that seem to have gotten off to a pretty good start. Among the suggestions I made for Wells Fargo was that they need to make sure comments are addressed, particularly if they ask smart questions that can help steer topics toward what customers need to know. Not too long after I published, I got an e-mail from Ed Terpening, vice president of social media at Wells Fargo, who had this to say:

I manage the blogging team here at Wells Fargo. I was surprised that we had comments unanswered on one of our blogs, so I looked into this today (just back from the Thanksgiving holiday).

Turns out our lead blogger on Student LoanDown was traveling quite a bit this month, and the comments you mentioned in your article had "fallen through the cracks". Staci has posted TODAY a note about this lack of response and her effort to find answers. The questions asked don't have quick, easy answers (financial matters rarely do), so she is getting help from internal experts (see her post today titled "My Bad").

I measure the success of our blogs based not on page views or other traditional "web" metrics, but on _engagement_, typically measured through comments but also via "back-channel" email and when other bloggers write about us on their own blogs. We see this as an important two-way medium and so strive to be responsive and pick topics that start a dialog. I think if you look at our other three blogs (and another launching today), we've been responsive. This was an unfortuante mistake.

In any case, I appreciate both your catching this delay and your coverage of us. It's great to be mentioned in an article that includes GM and Sun, both clearly leaders in this medium.

Indeed, Staci Schiller at Student LoanDown posted that she had overlooked a couple questions from interested folks and that she's in the process of addressing them. Good move.

I like Ed's take on measuring the success of the Wells Fargo blogs. Too many marketing folks want to look at the Conversational Marketing channel as a direct click-to-buy effort, or in other short-sighted ways. Ed seems to get the notion of the value inherent in the dialogue, which is a refreshing counterpoint to all the "buy my crap!" rhetoric from marketing managers who see blogs as broadcast media.

Kudos to Ed and his team. Looks like they're listening.