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Social Media Planning for Earlier than, Throughout and After M&A

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Company mergers and acquisitions are lengthy, sophisticated 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 big mistake.

On this article, I’ll stroll by way of each why that is so essential for all M&A and the way the method ideally ought to work. M&A will be sophisticated, however having a construction and plan in place ensures you set your organization and your social media workforce up for fulfillment.

The dangers of excluding social out of your M&A technique

Even in case you usually give two hoots about social media, that is one time you will need to care about it. Why? Threat. When you don’t cowl your social media bases, you open your organization as much as a number of authorized and different dangers:

  • Reputational threat: Most due diligence processes have a look at a number of inner variables. However many overlook exterior ones. Your social media workforce can and may make it easier to vet the corporate that you just plan to accumulate as a part of due diligence. They will have a look at the way it reveals as much as the general public and scan for reputational issues. For example, if shoppers largely imagine the corporate pollutes the surroundings, that may be value realizing earlier than the deal closes. It could even be a negotiating chip. I’ve seen such a evaluation cease a deal from continuing, so it’s effectively well worth the effort.
  • Authorized threat: Many individuals don’t understand that the buying firm is answerable for every part 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 workforce that they’re inheriting X variety of new channels will not be the day earlier than. They want time to coordinate with the opposite firm’s workforce and get a plan in place—it isn’t a easy course of.
  • Compliance threat: Particularly for firms in regulated industries like finance and pharmaceutical, there may be extra threat as every part posted in your social media channels should adjust to strict federal laws for communication. Violations can include steep fines. And in case you’re in Europe, you even have to fret about GDPR compliance. As beforehand acknowledged, the buying firm is answerable for every part 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 workforce. They must scrap their present plan, create content material on the fly, get approvals and one way or the other make certain their posts align with any posts going out on the channels of the acquired firm. Web consequence: 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 way of 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 transient your social media workforce as quickly as it’s permissible (have them signal an NDA in case you should). The sooner, the higher.
  • Join them with the social media workforce on the different firm as quickly as attainable 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 workforce to carry out a popularity evaluation of the opposite firm, evaluating exterior “chatter” concerning the firm, information protection and mainly searching 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 shall be acquired in time.
  • If you’re in a regulated trade like pharmaceutical or finance, make certain your compliance people are concerned to make sure the appropriate mechanisms are in place for compliance for the brand new channels.

In the course of the shut:

  • The day earlier than, examine in once more simply to make sure every part is prepared.
  • The day of, ask your social workforce to watch and report on response to the information and owned social media posts.

30 days after shut:

  • By now your social workforce ought to have management of all channels and be engaged on integrating the acquired firm’s workforce and channels into their day-to-day operation.
  • That is additionally the time when powerful selections could must be made in case you have redundant employees.

60 days after shut:

  • Your workforce ought to have a good suggestion concerning the instruments every is utilizing, and your social workforce ought to begin formulating long-term plans for eliminating redundant instruments, switching customers over, and so forth. This can be a lengthy course of, and you might have to attend for contracts to run out. However your social workforce ought to be formulating a plan.
  • That is additionally the time once you would possibly need to begin discussing any company companions for every firm and the way you need to use exterior assets 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 take a yr or extra to essentially combine utterly. However at 90 days, your workforce ought to be now working as one built-in workforce (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 workforce involvement

Bear in mind: the timeline above is a perfect state. It is extremely widespread for the acquired firm to retain its personal branding and id for a time period or completely. All of these elements will play into how the 2 social groups merge. They might function as impartial groups for a time period, so this 30-60-90 day timeline could must be stretched out. However the general order of operations continues to be correct, even when it must 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.

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