Earlier this year, BB&T and SunTrust Banks announced that they would be merging. Combined, they created the sixth-largest bank in the United States. With big banks growing more powerful by the day, regional banks have started to realize that if they hope to compete, they need to consider their own M&A options.
Before deciding to merge, however, there’s much to consider — and social media should be near the top of the list. Social channels are often a bank’s first line of communication with customers, so don’t get caught up in the excitement and let it become an afterthought. If your bank is contemplating or going through a merger, be sure to take the following points into consideration.
1. Create brand and content consistency. When two companies merge, it usually means more than just a name change. It also means a brand overhaul. The name change will be reflected in your new social media channels as well as any brand mark and logo updates.
Social media is a great way to publicly communicate branding, and a consistent narrative helps create trust and a sense of order for customers who may be worried about their assets during a change. They’re looking for straightforward answers, and that means it’s imperative that all parties are rowing in the same direction. This is where a content library comes in handy: It can not only help keep your brand messaging consistent, but also compliant.
By populating your content library with preapproved messaging that’s shared companywide, employees will be able to share branded content on their social networks without worrying about compliance concerns or brand misalignment. Make it easy for employees to maintain a clear, accurate message about the brand and the merger.
2. Integrate workflows and social media policies. Social media approval processes and workflows are rarely the same across different companies. When merging, examine both parties’ workflows, pinpoint differences, and marry the two to create a new one. Because social policies are mandated by the FFIEC, it’s likely that both parties will have one — but just like workflows, there will be important differences.
Again, examine each policy for these differences, then create a new policy that reconciles them and streamlines guidance. Be sure to include the workflow processes, guidelines like when employees can post and what they can say to customers in direct messages, and any other important information about your brand messaging.
3. Prioritize proper archiving. Archiving all social media posts and engagement is important for compliance. However, it will be especially important during a merger for tracking complaints that could relate to the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires that banks retain comments made on sites that are run by or on behalf of the bank that specifically relate to its performance in helping to meet community credit needs.
Customer complaints, concerns, and responses can skyrocket during a merger, and banks need to keep accurate, up-to-date records of those responses. Doing so manually, however, is nearly impossible. Fortunately, digital social media platforms can automate archiving, so you don’t have to keep track of disparate compliance records. Every post, comment, and response from every employee will be digitally archived, including posts that employees share on their personal accounts on behalf of your bank.
4. Track, measure, and monitor audience reception. To formulate your new communication strategy post-merger, you must measure and monitor activity on both parties’ social media channels throughout the merging process. People will inevitably talk, and you need to know what customers find positive, frustrating, worrisome, etc. — as well as what they appreciate about your bank’s messaging.
For example, when BB&T and SunTrust announced their new name, Truist Financial, people had opinions — which they, unsurprisingly, shared online. Sure, comments like “it sounds like a medication to treat eczema” aren’t exactly constructive, but consumers’ opinions and comments should inform the marketing team’s future strategy.
Tracking and monitoring every mention of your bank or merger on every social media channel is overwhelming without the help of the right social media management software. Find something that not only tracks mentions, but also categorizes those mentions so you can accurately gauge the public’s perception.
It’s easy to get swept up in and overwhelmed by all the hubbub of a merger, but remember that your customers are watching you. Don’t let your social media strategy fall by the wayside. Even when things are hectic, you have to maintain a solid social presence for your customers, and that presence has to remain compliant. Fortunately, the right tools can help.