One concern of small business owners is navigating through the sometimes murky waters of social media conversation. Today, if you look on most news station posting on Facebook, you’re quickly taken down the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ of heated arguments, vitriol, and even hate speech. 

It can be disconcerting for a fledgling small business owner. What if someone is having a bad day and decides to take it out on your Facebook page? Social media offers a certain amount of perceived anonymity, and users sometimes go farther than they would in a face-to-face argument. Things can get very ugly, very quickly.

It’s important to remember that all social media platforms are based on one element: conversation. 

Instead of shying away from social media in fear of negative comments, here are a few helpful tips to manage these difficult situations.

1. Respond

If you’re the recipient of a negative review, or if a disgruntled client is airing their grievances on your page: don’t ignore it. You do not have to agree with the statement, and you do not have to find an immediate solution right then. Your goal here is just to acknowledge the customer and let them know they’ve been heard.

For example: “We’re so sorry you’re not satisfied with Product ABC. Our customers are very important to us. Please check your inbox for a message from our customer service representative.”

2. Contact the customer privately

Take the potential argument off of the public forum. Pinpoint the customer’s concern and try to fix the problem. Better yet (in that private message), give them the name and phone number of an actual quality assurance/customer service representative. 

This will help you alleviate the “keyboard warrior” tendencies (for the most part), and your customers will appreciate the personal care.

4. Respond to the original post

Regardless whether the customer removes their post, respond to it in a professional and courteous manner. Remember, all of your other fans (and potential customers) can see this post. It’s important that they know you take care of your clients. Keep it short and sweet.

For example: “Thank you for speaking with us on this matter. We value your business and are so glad that we were able to come to a resolution. If we can be of any further assistance, please let us know!”

5. When to ban someone from your page

If at any time, someone on your page becomes abusive to you, your customers, or your employees – you have the right to stand up for yourself. 

It’s the same principle as refusing service in a brick and mortar shop. If that line is crossed, you can report that person and ban them from your page. 

Create a Plan

It’s ideal for a small business to have an established plan for handling these situations online. While you may be handling your own social media today, two years from now it may be another employee (or multiple employees) posting for you. You want to make sure you have set ground rules in engaging in conversation with your digital audience. 

Take the time to create your plan early in your business – it will help you avoid social media mishaps and develop a cohesive online brand.