There is no doubt that social media has had a profound impact on the way businesses operate. It allows companies to connect with customers personally and build relationships that can result in increased sales. However, social media can also be a double-edged sword. If not used correctly, it can have negative consequences for your business.

What would you do if this was posted about your restaurant?

OUCH!!! Not only will this bring with it a host of bad publicity, but it sticks in people’s minds and impacts public perception, regardless of if it’s true or not. And worse, it’s on the internet forever!

The internet is riddled with horror stories like this. With the media’s insatiable need for constant content, even the most minor story can be blown up into immense proportions. Additionally, every customer and every employee has a camera in their pocket, ready to document every incident or altercation they deem salacious.

It’s a perfect storm.

Social Media Can Be An Invaluable Tool… (if used correctly)

Social media is an invaluable tool for marketing your business and is now so mainstream you can’t ignore it. Your business needs to have a social media presence on your target customers’ sites. Some social media platforms to consider are:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

84% of Americans head to their social media accounts for lifestyle tips, decision-making, product research, recipes, news (and “fake news”), and entertainment. Users can gather all the information they need through social media without leaving their platform of choice.

As with many aspects of the internet, it is a double-edged sword. If not used correctly, it can have negative consequences for your business. For example, if you post too much about your business, you may come across as pushy or sales oriented. This can turn new customers off and make them less likely to do business with you.

Let’s weigh both sides to decide if social media is a friend or a foe.

Pros And Cons Of Social Media Marketing

Pros

Helps Build A Relationship.

One of the benefits of social media is that it allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level. It will enable you to share content that demonstrates your culture, your staff, your business’s “personality,” and style.

Use pictures and videos demonstrating that you are real people in the local community; this is something you have over the corporate competition. This helps build trust and loyalty, which can lead to increased sales.

Great Avenue To Communicate Information.

You can share updates about your products and services and engage in conversations with customers. Highlight milestones and special events and sell tickets, memberships, or gift certificates.

This is almost like an electronic newsletter – people expect you to promote how you can benefit them. This is also a great avenue to turn followers into loyal customers by getting them to sign up for your rewards or loyalty program so that you have their contact information on your list.

Followers Gather Followers.

Having a large following on social media can help you reach more people, and it can also help you build trust and credibility. When potential customers see that you have a large following or that their friends follow you, they may be more likely to do business with you. Additionally, having a large following can help you get your message out there faster and more effectively if people share your content. The more people whose eyes are on your social media accounts, the more opportunity to turn them into paying customers.

Turn Followers Into Paying Customers.

You can use your accounts to share positive testimonials and reviews from other sources. One of our tricks is to take online reviews (they are posted publicly on the internet) and use them on our client’s social media accounts. You can then embellish them with enticing pictures to catch their eye. What others are saying about your business is far more valuable than anything you can say.

Here’s an example from one of our clients:

Who doesn’t like doughnuts? That would be weird. And thanks to Gary and Jillian at Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells, MA, for being such great clients and making wonderful doughnuts!

Cons

Followers Aren’t Customers.

A big list of followers is not the same as a customer list. Followers may have never given you money, in all likelihood, many haven’t and never will – but follow you simply for interest.

You Can Lose Control.

You don’t own your list of followers; the social media platform does. This means they control your account and could shut it down if it got hacked, if someone posted something inappropriate (like disgruntled former employees), or if they deemed that you were violating the terms of the agreement. Instantly, your list of followers would be gone and irretrievable. There is enormous value in building your own customer list so that you retain control and can constantly communicate on your terms.

A Large Volume Of Spam And Fake Accounts.

Sadly, one pitfall is the proliferation of fake Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest followers, and spammers. These accounts can often be identified by their lack of engagement and generic, spammy content. They can also drain your resources, as they can clog up your feeds and timelines with irrelevant information. You can monitor new followers and delete those that appear fake, often, they have few posts and few followers, but this takes time and energy. Just ask Elon Musk.

Negative Posts Can Go Viral.

As noted by the Burger King employees, negative news can go viral quickly. A Taco Bell employee posted a picture on his Instagram account showing him licking a stack of taco shells. He was fired, but not before Taco Bell suffered the backlash.

It is IMPERATIVE that you have a system in place to monitor your online review sites and social media comments. If you don’t have team members to delegate this task to, we offer this service to our clients.

Click here to talk with one of our DFY Review Managers for a customized program for your business.

If something bad happens, you need to know about it as quickly as possible – before it rages out of control.

Unfortunately, with the advent of social media, it’s easier than ever for something bad to get out there and be seen by many people in a short time. And, once something is out there, it’s tough to contain.

If your business finds itself amid a social media crisis, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t panic.
It can be tempting to freak out when you see negative comments about your business online. Still, it’s essential to stay calm and focused. Dealing with a crisis while you’re emotional will only worsen things.

2. Address the issue head-on.
Don’t try to hide or deny what’s happened. Be open and honest with your followers and customers, and apologize for any inconvenience or harm caused.

3. Take action quickly.
If an employee has made a mistake, take disciplinary action immediately. If you’re dealing with false information or rumors, work to get the truth out there as quickly as possible.

4. Contact the social media or review sites of the issue.
You may have luck getting it taken down if it is false or defamatory information. The faster, the better before it is screenshotted and shared.

5. Remove the ability to comment.
If the negative comments/images are on a site you can access, disable commenting on the posts. Or see if you can get the site admin to remove commenting. People like to get into verbal wars on the internet, and this prevents it from escalating with further untruths.

6. Keep communication open.
Ensure you continue communicating with your followers and customers throughout the crisis. Let them know how you address the situation and how they can help.

7. Learn from the experience.
A social media crisis can be a valuable learning experience for your business. Take the time to analyze what went wrong and what went well and use that information to improve your crisis management strategy.

All This To Say…

Online reputation management is now an important part of owning your own business. It can be the difference between growing your sales and losing customer faith. Aside from your own website, how your business is presented on your social media sites and your online reviews are your most valuable new customer online acquisition tool.

Keeping an eye on your positive and negative reviews, responding to customer feedback, offering solutions to problems, and dealing with rare but dangerous, potentially viral posts will keep your online reputation pristine.

Moving you up the search rankings and the review sites. Negative reviews will quickly be outweighed by positive ones and become non-issues. Develop a crisis management plan so that you have procedures for tracking down, responding to, and removing offensive content from social media sites.

Social media is a valuable marketing tool for independently owned businesses. It cannot be ignored, but it also has its pitfalls. By monitoring online reviews and social media sites, addressing issues quickly, and having a crisis management plan, you can minimize negative comments’ damage to your reputation.

Want more new customers using your review sites and never have to worry about a review again?… And get it all done for you?… For less than a triple mocha grande a day?

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Schedule a short call with one of our DFY Review Marketing Experts. They can fill you in on our completely customized DFY Review Management System. And they’ll also let you know where you stand in your local market on Google and your review sites. FREE because you’re on my list, and we like you. No hard-core sales pitch zone. Just great info and solutions.

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Michael Thibault

Michael Thibault

Known as “The Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.

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