ImageBy now, small business owners should have seen the light when it comes to social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., are great for making connections with current customers and future prospects, but you have to remember that this is a chance for open dialogue. Don’t just throw your content out and walk away. Make sure you are accessible and responsive to any feedback coming from your fans. If you do this well, you will see a return on your time spent answering these questions and comments.

Be accessible. Solicit feedback from your fans through polls and open ended questions. Check your social media sites often, including outside of normal work hours if possible. Make sure that your fans know how to reach you. You can do this through your page profile, but you can also post this information from time to time. Anything you can do to make the lives of your customers easier, do it here. Remember, one of the goals of these pages is to improve the convenience factor for your fans. If you don’t make it easy for someone to contact you and ask questions or learn about your service, at least one of your competitors will.

Be responsive to feedback. Many businesses will post fantastic content and then walk away from the conversation—a big mistake. Don’t ignore what your fans are saying. They’re telling you what they want! Listen and respond accordingly.

Responsiveness is especially critical when dealing with negative feedback. Negative reviews can play a major impact on the perception of your company. A 2011 study by LightSpeed Research found that just 1-3 negative online reviews were enough to deter over 1/3 of online shoppers. So what do you do when someone posts something negative? Do you respond? How?

Your first instinct may be to try to ignore a negative comment or message altogether; however, this is not the best idea if the complaint is legitimate. When someone gives you feedback, they are giving you a chance to make it right. You must look at it as an opportunity to showcase your customer service skills. Don’t be defensive in your response. You are not out to prove anything; you want to listen to the feedback and respond in a helpful way. If support is needed, respond with your customer service contact information. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for the unhappy customer. If you are able to resolve an issue, encourage the reviewer to leave an amended comment or review pointing out the fact that you reached out to them and corrected the issue.

Regardless of the resolution, your fans will be happy to see that you are trying to make the situation right. They understand that businesses are run by people who are not perfect. The best a business can do is try to provide great service whenever possible and correct the mistakes as they come.

Don’t limit your responses to negative comments, though. Feel free to like comments or things that your fans have shared. Don’t be afraid to comment and join the discussion. This shows your fans that you are indeed looking at the page and want to interact with them. It’s a chance to show your fans more about your company and the great service you provide in a non-confrontational, non-sales environment. Fans will appreciate the opportunity to get to know the human side of your company.

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