Late last year, we helped one of our clients consolidate their social media presence after they had acquired two high profile eCommerce websites and wanted to merge them to their own store. All three stores cater to a similar demographic, and the purpose of the acquisition was to bring down competition and serve customers from one single brand name.
As a third-party consultant, we were responsible for consolidating their social media presences, and ensuring that the transition was smooth and effective.
In this post, we'll take you through a few lessons we learned along this journey.
Synchronize your brand migration process
Although we were third-party consultants who were only in charge of social media migration, we realized that it was important to synchronize this process with the transition happening elsewhere.
Our client enjoyed a great brand presence in their industry, but it would be a mistake to assume that all of the customers of the brands they had acquired would be aware of, or like, this new brand they were being merged to.
The first step of the process was to talk to the brand manager of the parent firm and get an idea of their transition timeline. This way, when the parent brand communicated with the customers of the acquired brands via their website or email about the acquisition, we could broadcast the news to the relevant followers over social media as well.
Create a transition timeline
Acquisition and brand transition are not always the same thing. When Amazon acquired Zappos.com in 2009, it was decided that the two brands would operate independently with their own company culture. But that was not the case here.
When you have one brand literally swallowing another, you need to give your customers the time they need to adjust to life with the new brand.
To do this, we created a three-month timeline for the transition process. Broadly, this is how it worked:
- In the first month, we managed the social brands of all the three stores separately while cross-posting content from the parent store to the acquired stores sporadically.
- By the second month, we increased the frequency of cross-posting so that the followers got accustomed to the new, over-arching brand.
- The transition was complete and the accounts merged by the end of the third month.
Bringing the brands together
Every business is unique, and this is often most clearly conveyed in the way they interact with followers on social media.
Our parent brand has always been positioned as a serious and trustworthy provider, but one of the companies they had acquired took itself less seriously. Their social media followers loved the memes and humorous posts which regularly posted by the brand. Bringing the brand messaging of these two companies together on social media posed a significant challenge.
To tackle this, our first step was to look at the company holistically and chart a picture of what the management wanted the brand to look like post-acquisition. The parent brand was nearly four times as big as the acquired brand, and this made it important to retain the ‘serious and trustworthy’ nature of the main business. At the same time, letting go of the light-hearted messaging of the acquired brand could push customers away.
We decided to work on a ‘cheat day’ to merge the brand messaging. The parent brand got a cheat day on Fridays when followers tend to be more upbeat about the weekend, while the acquired brand got a cheat day for Tuesdays when customers tend to be more serious while at work. This way, we were able to offer cross-exposure to both the messaging to our customers.
The number of cheat days on the acquired brand kept rising over the two months till the account was finally merged to the parent brand.
Effecting the merge
Facebook and Instagram are the two most important social networks in our clients’ industry. Thankfully, both of these networks provide an easy way to merge accounts (provided you have the same admin account for each). By the end of three months, we were able to move all the followers from the acquired brands to the parent brand.
However, this wasn't possible on Twitter. At the moment, we have a stickied post on both the accounts of the acquired brands urging followers to find the latest updates on the parent Twitter account instead. Fortunately, none of the brands were big on Twitter.
Merging social media accounts is not as easy as requesting Facebook or Instagram to move the accounts - it's important to understand the brand positioning of the various accounts and know what these various customers seek.
Without identifying the uniqueness of each brand, merging the accounts could be a marketing nightmare. Our transition was rated a success given that there has been minimal decline in the engagement rates and overall revenues have continued on the projected trajectory.
Not giving customers the time they need to adjust could have been a disastrous move.