Social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s a fantastic marketing channel for small businesses that helps you engage with customers. But on the other – it can turn ugly fast. 

For social hell to break loose, all you need is one disgruntled customer with an axe to grind. 

How you handle this situation can make all the difference to your small business’ reputation. 

Forewarned is forearmed

Even the best-run small businesses occasionally mess up. Therefore, at some point a customer will decide to take their complaint online. It’s inevitable. 

The best trick is to have a strategy in place before this happens. That way, you won’t panic and make the situation a whole lot worse than it needs to be. 

So what’s the best response strategy? 

  • Understand the issue. Was your small business at fault? Or was it a misunderstanding?  Knowing what you’re dealing with will guide your response. For the former, an apology is the appropriate response. For the later, gently correct them with the proper information.  
    • Act fast (but not too fast). Given the lightening-fast nature of social media, it’s important your small business responds promptly to any complaint. That said, don’t fire off the first response that comes to mind. Take your time to compose an appropriate reply and get someone to proof it before hitting send.  
    • Don’t be defensive. Instead, validate their concern, and then address it. 
    • Never use sarcasm, insults or get aggressive in any form. It’s not a good look for your small business, no matter how aggressive or unjustified the attack might be. 
  • Be careful with humour. It’s okay to laugh at yourself to diffuse a situation. But don’t make the customer the butt of the joke. 
  • Take it offline. Where possible, suggest continuing the conversation in private.  
  • Don’t delete. While it’s tempting to delete negative comments, this will only make the situation worse. It makes the customer angrier, and more likely to attack your small business again and again. 

Whatever you do, don’t disengage with the social media sphere. When done well, it’s one of the best digital marketing channels there is. 

If you’re struggling with this, or any other aspect of small business marketing, then contact Hunter & Scribe at [email protected].