Strategy

5 Steps to Rebranding Social Media Accounts During Mergers and Acquisitions

New company name? Check.

New logo? Check.

New domain name and website? Double check.

New social media presence? …

Mergers and acquisitions come with a long to-do list that’s often executed across several months. Amid such a busy time, it’s easy to overlook key components of your marketing — like social media.

But first, are you on the right social media platforms?

So what does rebranding your company’s social media accounts entail? I recently learned the ins and outs for myself through a client merger, so consider this your crash course in rebranding social media accounts.

Step 1: Conduct an Account Audit

To know where to go, you must first know where you’ve been. Start by taking inventory of existing assets among both companies.

In your audit, ask:

  • What is each brand’s positioning, messaging, voice, and tone?
  • Who are their audiences, and is there audience overlap?
  • Where are the brands communicating online?
  • How many accounts do they each have?

Identifying that one brand has corporate social media accounts for the overarching brand while the other has segmented accounts for various regions and business units can help inform the strategy you choose.

Step 2: Choose a Social Media Strategy

Different mergers and acquisitions call for different branding strategies. Here are the main categories companies consider and how each can affect social media presence:

1. Backing the stronger horse (55 percent of companies surveyed): When a larger company absorbs a smaller company completely over time.

Opting for this doesn’t mean ditching one audience. Make the transition as seamless as possible through cross-posts leading up to the merger. Try:

  • Sprinkling in retweets and shares from the “stronger horse” company on the acquired business’s channels.
  • Posting about the upcoming acquisition.
  • Pointing social media followers to their new online home leading up to the official merger.

All of this helps acclimate audiences to one brand and the voice and tone associated.

2. Business as usual (24 percent): When a larger company acquires a smaller, but recognizable, brand without rebranding its social presence.

We’ve seen this a lot with Amazon acquisitions (like Zappos and Whole Foods Market). On social media, this can be as easy as adding attribution (i.e., “an Amazon company”) to online bios or updating logos and header images to include branding elements from both companies.

3. Best of both (13 percent): When two companies combine forces but preserve original company names to maximize audience retention, like Dell EMC.

Even with two names, you still have to streamline your messaging. Decide which brand standards (voice and tone, messaging strategy, logo, etc.) you plan to adopt and ensure consistency across channels.

4. Different in kind (8 percent): When companies use a merger as an opportunity to completely rebrand.

Build up to the new company name and logo by giving sneak peeks of color palettes, logos, etc. Make sure all social media accounts display the right names, logos, and branding information on the official launch date.

Step 3: Make a Transition Plan

Once you know what you want from your social media accounts after the merger, start prepping for a smooth shift. There are three key actions you can take to build a strong transition plan:

1. Communicate.

To ensure that your messaging is consistent and the transition is streamlined, put your social media experts in touch with your website developers, public relations department, and other marketing entities to get everyone on the same page. Since a merger can be hectic, consider establishing a merger marketing team to outline and oversee who’s tackling what. 

2. Research your platforms.

If you need to merge social media accounts, it’s important to know how each platform accommodates those requests. For example, Facebook and Instagram make merging audiences easy, while LinkedIn and Twitter require more creative solutions.

3. Build out a calendar with key dates.

Start by marking the date of the merger, and then work backward, asking yourself: How many times between now and then do I need to talk to my audience about the change? There’s a sweet spot here; you need to mention it enough to make sure it doesn’t take them by surprise, but not so much that you’re beating them over the head with reminders.

You’ll also want to include additional key branding announcements (like a new logo) and internal dates (when you’re launching the website, when the social media channels will be officially merged, etc.).

Step 4: Don’t Forget Your Audience(s)

Each company has various internal and external stakeholders, including your employees, your audience, and the media. When rebranding social media accounts and crafting announcements, keep them all in mind.

This step seems so straightforward, but many people miss it: Make announcements about what next steps your company will take, crafted for each of these segments. Many businesses announce a merger, acquisition, or other major step with media outlets in mind. While this is still important, it’s just as critical to ask: What do our customers need to know?

Ways to keep them informed:

  • Link to official announcements. After creating a post announcing the change, consider pinning it or making it available at the top of your profile.
  • Point them to the right account. If you’re no longer planning to use a social media account, redirect customers and visitors to a new place they can find you online.
  • Answer their questions. Make sure someone is checking messages, responding to questions, and monitoring corporate social media accounts throughout the merger. This includes the ones you’ll be deleting or merging.

Step 5: Cut the Ribbon

When the day finally comes when two companies become one, launch, merge, and rebrand according to your well-planned timeline and social media strategy. The following weeks may require some additional monitoring and customer service, but by taking the time to prepare in advance, you’ll be well-prepared for a successful shift. 

Need more guidance for managing your corporate social media accounts? Contact us — our team of social media experts can help.