Social media as a marketing tool can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to building your business reputation. Friends, followers, and likes on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram can help your business gain raving fans with a tap or a click. Not only can you easily gauge the public’s response to your company (for better or worse), the immediate nature of these digital tools allow you to instantly make reparative efforts if a customer’s complaint paints you in a bad light.

Along with the benefits of social media come considerable drawbacks. A few vocal, unhappy customers can start trends you’d rather avoid. And as Warren Buffet has so wisely declared, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” The best way to protect your business reputation is to put systems in place to prevent major mishaps and allow you to quickly and authentically respond to and mitigate any social media crisis.

Listen

Social media is the perfect venue to listen to your customers so you can better respond to their needs. Listen to what people are saying, and be proactive in your responses. Encourage satisfied customers to post reviews and submit testimonials so that you have proof of a positive track record to weigh out any negative reviews that come in. And they will come in! One or two bad reviews won’t bother prospects when there are 75 glowing ones to balance them out. Be sure to read and respond to feedback in any form - positive or negative - so that your customers know you are listening.

Respond Appropriately

Not every company has the resources to respond on social media in real time. Just make sure you set reasonable expectations for responses (e.g. 24-48 hours), and make sure you post that promised response time.

Also, be thoughtful when responding. Showing your customers you care by responding thoughtfully to complaints can prevent crises from occurring. Better yet, leverage the impact of a negative review by using it as a means for demonstrating your ability to take in feedback and apply appropriate solutions. If you don’t feel the feedback accurately reflects the “true story,” use it as an opportunity to clarify details and explain your side of the story. You may not win one unhappy customer back, but you can use your responses to negative reviews as an opportunity to show prospects your ability to reason things out and find solutions.

Be Transparent

Transparency isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity. Be honest, upfront, and don’t try to hide legitimate customer concerns. Honestly truly is the best policy and will help you win loyal customers over the long haul.

Be Social Media Savvy

This entails more than just crafting the perfect tweet. Have a crisis plan in place for sticky situations. Set clear moderation guidelines so taking down violating posts doesn’t look suspicious. Consider hiring an experienced social media manager to handle your accounts, and restrict access to those accounts.

Keep Your Cool

You can’t please everyone all the time. The best thing you can do is to be prepared to handle sticky social media situations with grace, honesty, and transparency anytime they arise.

If you’re ready to take that step toward protecting the online reputation of your business, begin by sitting down with a Family Business Lawyer®. We’re here to help you implement legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems that will prevent major mishaps so you can focus on the positive aspects of business ownership.