Company mergers and acquisitions are lengthy, difficult offers that take months if not years to execute. And but in all of that planning, many firms utterly overlook social media as a part of their M&A course of.
This can be a enormous mistake.
On this article, I’ll stroll by each why that is so essential for all M&A and the way the method ideally ought to work. M&A may be difficult, however having a construction and plan in place ensures you set your organization and your social media crew up for fulfillment.
The dangers of excluding social out of your M&A technique
Even should you sometimes give two hoots about social media, that is one time you need to care about it. Why? Threat. For those who don’t cowl your social media bases, you open your organization as much as a bunch of authorized and different dangers:
- Reputational danger: Most due diligence processes take a look at a bunch of inner variables. However many overlook exterior ones. Your social media crew can and may assist you to vet the corporate that you simply plan to amass as a part of due diligence. They will take a look at the way it exhibits as much as the general public and scan for reputational considerations. As an illustration, if customers largely consider the corporate pollutes the surroundings, that could be value understanding earlier than the deal closes. It could possibly even be a negotiating chip. I’ve seen this kind of evaluation cease a deal from continuing, so it’s effectively well worth the effort.
- Authorized danger: Many individuals don’t understand that the buying firm is answerable for all the things printed on all social media channels beginning on authorized day one (i.e., the primary day that the deal is remaining). So the time to inform your social crew that they’re inheriting X variety of new channels isn’t the day earlier than. They want time to coordinate with the opposite firm’s crew and get a plan in place—it’s not a easy course of.
- Compliance danger: Particularly for firms in regulated industries like finance and pharmaceutical, there’s extra danger as all the things posted in your social media channels should adjust to strict federal rules for communication. Violations can include steep fines. And should you’re in Europe, you even have to fret about GDPR compliance. As beforehand said, the buying firm is answerable for all the things on all channels as of authorized day one.
- Exterior content material and communication: Think about that your social media supervisor has their week all deliberate out. Then on Tuesday, you inform them, “We’re buying firm X tomorrow! Let’s submit on social media about it.” That is inherently unfair to your social crew. They should scrap their present plan, create content material on the fly, get approvals and one way or the other ensure their posts align with any posts going out on the channels of the acquired firm. Web end result: chaos and sometimes sloppy, uncoordinated exterior communications throughout the 2 manufacturers.
A social media planning framework for earlier than, throughout and after mergers or acquisitions
So what ought to occur?
Having been by dozens of company mergers and acquisitions in my profession, right here’s my define for what ideally ought to occur—each pre- and post-deal.
60-90 days earlier than the deal closes:
- Get permission from authorized to temporary your social media crew as quickly as it’s permissible (have them signal an NDA should you should). The sooner, the higher.
- Join them with the social media crew on the different firm as quickly as doable to allow them to begin discussing their particular person operations, how greatest to merge them and formulate a recreation plan for day one.
- Ask your social crew to carry out a fame evaluation of the opposite firm, evaluating exterior “chatter” in regards to the firm, taking a look at information protection and principally on the lookout for any pink flags.
30 days earlier than the deal closes:
- That is the time to be speaking about social media content material to make sure posts from each firms are aligned and all approvals wanted can be acquired in time.
- In case you are in a regulated business like pharmaceutical or finance, ensure your compliance people are concerned to make sure the proper mechanisms are in place for compliance for the brand new channels.
Through the shut:
- The day earlier than, examine in once more simply to make sure all the things is prepared.
- The day of, ask your social crew to observe and report on response to the information and owned social media posts.
30 days after shut:
- By now your social crew ought to have management of all channels and be engaged on integrating the acquired firm’s crew and channels into their day-to-day operation.
- That is additionally the time when robust selections could should be made you probably have redundant employees.
60 days after shut:
- Your crew ought to have a good suggestion about the instruments every is utilizing, and your social crew ought to begin formulating long-term plans for eliminating redundant instruments, switching customers over, and so on. This can be a lengthy course of, and you might have to attend for contracts to run out. However your social crew ought to be formulating a plan.
- That is additionally the time while you would possibly wish to begin discussing any company companions for every firm and the way you wish to use exterior sources going ahead.
90 days after shut:
Totally integrating two separate social media operations takes a very long time—longer than you’d suppose. It could possibly take a yr or extra to actually combine utterly. However at 90 days, your crew ought to be now working as one built-in crew (or at the very least beginning to). They need to be largely utilizing the identical instruments (ideally). And they need to be aligning on course of and process for the day-to-day operation of social media.
Profitable M&A calls for social crew involvement
Bear in mind: the timeline above is a perfect state. It is vitally widespread for the acquired firm to retain its personal branding and identification for a time period or completely. All of these elements will play into how the 2 social groups merge. They might function as unbiased groups for a time period, so this 30-60-90 day timeline could must be stretched out. However the total order of operations continues to be correct, even when it needs to be a 90-180-360 plan.
Lastly, if your organization has not constructed social media into its official M&A course of, it ought to. Interval.
In search of extra skilled insights like Sue’s? Subscribe to our e-newsletter right now.