Social Media can be the ultimate, free, sales and business enhancer, or it can be a killer. Many claim that social media is democratic and fair, but is it for business? The answer is complicated, but social media is probably not as fair as we’d like. Consider that just as easily as someone can post an honest, accurate review (be it favorable or not) that could be valuable for other consumers contemplating a purchase, someone can just as easily twist things to use it as a bulletin board for posing unfair, nefarious or counter-to-reality reviews. These purposefully negative reviews distort and can sometimes sink the image, reputation, and ultimately the success of the entity or person being reviewed.

Let’s face it – social media disasters happen. Some people use social media to demonize a competitor, or simply someone they don’t like or had a bad experience with. It runs the gamut from posting a negative reaction to an actual experience where a bad review was unfounded, to viciously destroying a reputation when a true reviewable activity didn’t even take place, all out of malicious intent.

In a free society that honors freedom of speech, bad-mouthing has always been possible. It’s just that now, with the advent of social media, plus practically everyone having the ability to instantly read or write a review in the palm of their hand, the impact of such social media driven reviews is more profound, lasting and widespread. We now need to have a mature and realistic strategy in place to overcome this potentially business and reputation killing activity.

The best defense starts with the acknowledgment and acceptance that such debilitating practices such as unfounded social media trashing is a reality in today’s world; that isn’t going to change or go away anytime soon. We hope that it doesn’t happen, but we need to be ready for it in case it does. Make sure you’re up to speed on every place that a negative or nefarious review can possibly pop up online, and be ready to deal with it if it does. You have to spot it quickly, and then act quickly. Emotions will figure into your actions – no one wants to hear bad reviews about them or their company, especially if they’re not true. But don’t get sucked into the fretting or sulking about the social post. Doing so can slow your response. Get in motion right away to offset the effects of a bad social media commentary.

Consider if there is any legitimate learning or a teachable moment behind the review or criticism. Maybe there is some degree of validity to the post? Maybe there’s a blind spot that someone is pointing out that you should take to heart. If there is, and you approach it maturely and with an open mind, the review may be the best thing that ever happened to you – it’s uber-valuable, free, focus-group feedback at its purest and finest.

Maybe the post is unfair, off-the-wall stuff posted to cause damage by a rival or miscreant. Could be. Lord knows there are no-goodniks galore out there who have found an effective weapon in their arsenal to cause havoc and pain. It takes all kinds in this world. Regardless of whether it’s an unfair or unfounded review, or someone up to no good, you have to try and get out in front of the potential damage that such a review can cause. You need to respond quickly – and do so in a manner that does not come across as being defensive or retaliatory. Retaliation doesn’t work well in business in a PR context; in fact, it can make matters worse if you are perceived as a counter puncher.

You need to craft a written response on the social media stream that will be seen as mature, reasonable, and thoughtful. If there is some validity, concede that improvement may be needed, and that you will address the issue. Also note your appreciation for the feedback. You need to respond by being above the fray and not stoop to a lower common denominator. You need to manage the damage and take control of the dialogue by choosing your words and reaction wisely, respectfully and maturely, even in the situation that the criticisms are uncalled for.

The biggest hedge and insurance against bad publicity is simply being good – darn good. Build up enough positive reviews and testimony online so that a few bad reviews don’t sink you – and that you’ll possibly have an army of satisfied customers and brand loyalists/ambassadors ready to jump in there and defend you to underscore their good experiences with you. If someone reads one or a few bad reviews, but there are a lot more legitimate, good reviews out there for you all piled up, people will get the right overall view of you and your company, and surmise that it’s a bad apple outlier.

Concentrate on building an ongoing, current, and updated strong reputation with the public, your customers and all those around you by delivering top quality goods and services, treating all with the respect and dignity that you expect to be treated with, and by behaving ethically and as a good neighbor at all turns. You won’t win every battle, but you will win most. Eventually you’ll win the war for your reputation against those hell-bent on unfair publicity. People notice and honor trends. Be the master engineer of the trend that sets your mark of excellence, and when inaccurate, unfair or uncalled for reviews come up on any social media channel, you’ll be optimally ready and capable to overcome them – especially if your response is immediate, mature, fair, and respectful. That’s the best you can hope for in today’s double-edged sword world of social media freedom.

Hiring a Davinci Virtual receptionist team is a great idea if you are dealing with some social media fall out. You don’t always have the time to take every call and letting Davinci take care of your customers is a great way to stay on top of good publicity. Contact us today to learn more.