It’s 8 p.m. on a Friday night and a Facebook comment notification appears in your inbox, revealing a bitter comment made by an aggravated customer.

Your blood pressure begins to rise and your stomach starts to sink. Uh-oh. You know you need to give a proper response, stat. After all, this unflattering comment won’t look very good on your network of happy, loyal fans and followers.

So what do you do?

Every business goes through an ebb and flow of happy customers and not-so-happy customers. As a business owner or manager, it’s up to you to transform the occasional, but inevitable “rainy day” crisis into an opportunity with a solid, proactive social media crisis plan. If you don’t have a plan yet, we recommend coming up with one today, and here’s how to do it.

First things first, we want to establish that proactive (verses reactive) social customer service is the key to creating a successful crisis plan. Reactive is plainly responding to a crisis only when it happens, usually as a result of not having a crisis plan in place at all. Proactive is the on-going process of building a strong base of followers and providing meaningful interactions that help build brand image. This places your brand in an approachable light for customers to interact with you and this is often the most effective way to ward off negative reviews right away.

Step 1. Choose a Social Media Management Service

Every minute counts when alleviating a bad online PR disaster, but you don’t need to have an employee sit and refresh the company’s Twitter feed every minute to see the latest mentions about your business. Choose a dependable online reputation management service or try a free service like Google Alerts that will send you email notifications every time keywords about your business are mentioned on the web (in blog articles and social updates for example).

Step 2. Creatively Listen

Brands often have their ear on the ground for their company, product names, and services, which is great, but to truly provide proactive customer service is to set up searches for keywords that your customers are most likely to use. It is okay to respond to a related topic your target market might be discussing online. Additionally, it’s okay to reply to a public comment, question, or discussion being made about your brand in a non-threatening, non-sales like way. If your product or brand is not mentioned in a related conversation between users, consider it a private conversation.

Step 3. Identify & Respond   

Problems need to be addressed immediately so the quicker the response, the better. However, when you do come across a not-so-great customer comment, in an effort to be proactive, try not to use generic scripting. This could send an already-upset customer over the edge. “We’re sorry you feel this way” is probably one of the worst, most impersonal things you can say.

How to Handle a Social Media Crisis: A Proactive Step-by-Step Guide | Small Screen Producer Digital and Inbound Marketing Agency Houston

If you look back on social media dramas of the past, there’s always a good way and a bad way to handle an online reputation crisis. (Remember the Amy’s Bakery meltdown back in May? Yikes!) The best way to reach out to respond to a customer is designate someone who can personally reach out to the customer and respond to them as an individual. Often times that means asking them for a time and number to call and follow-up with an owner or manager. Discover a way to cater to the customer on a personal level and remember to honor those commitments.


Step 4. Complete the Circle and Follow-Up

Okay, so issue resolved and problem solved, done! Not quite. It’s always great proactive customer service to reach out to the customer that sent you the note and see how they are doing. Ask if there’s anything you can do to make their lives better. The extra effort will guarantee a happy customer (who will most likely than not make happy referrals).

The Takeaway

Remember that customers will usually give a bad review, rating, or response after a bad experience. And making sure you have a proactive crisis plan set in place has its long-term benefits. By keeping up with your social media accounts, capturing the interest of audiences with valuable content and conversation, and establishing ways a customer can reach out to you in the event that they do have a question or concern, you’re creating preventative ways to never experience the uncomfortable feeling of a social media crisis again.

If you’re looking for an online or social media reputation management service, click below to learn more about our Internet Reputation Protector program. It’s built to help you claim listings, nurture your reputation (the right way), and monitor review sites and social media in real-time. 


About Small Screen Producer

Small Screen Producer is a full service, marketing firm located in Houston, Texas that specializes in online digital media marketing through a 4-step process. Step 1: WE PLAN a custom web presence strategy for your business through website design and development, mobile development, social media account creation and branding. STEP 2: We then POSITION your brand through Pay-Per-Click advertising and search engine optimize tactics that include on-page and off-page SEO that are Google and Bing approved. STEP 3: We then PROMOTE your brand using an Inbound marketing strategy or a content marketing strategy to help you accomplish your marketing goals. We do this through blogging, video production, infographics, call-to-actions, landing pages, and free educational offers. We help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. STEP 4: We then PROTECT your brand’s web presence with a reputation management program that monitors social media and on line reviews. Get started today with a free online marketing assessment of your company’s web presence. Your company deserves it.