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Using Public Relations on Social Media If Your Small Business Has Been Receiving Negative Publicity

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Posted by:Patrick Bailey

Are you experiencing a social media disaster that you are trying to remedy? Given the popularity of social media for professional and personal use, you are not alone.

There are many small businesses and organizations that have faced this reality and have had to fix it using public relations approaches. While many of these disaster stories could have been avoided, some of them are honest errors. Whatever scenario you’re experiencing, remember that you can fix such problems. Even though no small business owner wants to receive negative publicity, you can redirect the focus to something more positive. To do a quick, effective reversal, it is best to hire a public relations or other professionals to handle things.

In the meantime, you should be as proactive as you can. Reach out to your existing clients to let them know the truth and possibly to ask them for their positive testimonials. You could provide these testimonials to the public relations firm. Publicizing the good aspects of your business could be a first good step to letting customers and other businesses know what you have to offer in terms of goods and services. After a setback, a proactive stance is better than remaining silent and expecting things to go back to normal. In the business world, it just does not work like that.

Access the Benefits of Social Media

Social media brings companies and organizations closer to their customers and helps facilitate quick, easy, and effective communication. One of the strengths of social media is the interactions it can provide.

Customers can easily contact a company and learn a great deal about it. They can find out more about a company's products and services, express their wishes, exchange experiences, and give feedback on spa treatments, alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinics, restaurant meals, and so much more.

Of course, this means customers also find it easy to send negative feedback over the internet using social media channels. Why? Well, it is partly because customers can conveniently provide feedback from the comfort of their homes.

Once customers’ messages hit the internet, there is no taking them back. Customers do not have to call customer service or physically meet anyone to tell them about your company. They can type something and many others can see what they have shared. When people write and send negative feedback, it often becomes live immediately.

Speed is a huge part of the digital world. Users can access social media at any time via their mobile devices and share pictures and updates in minutes, even seconds. Not replying to a tweet or comment on Facebook is like not responding to a customer’s phone call to customer service.

Generic or automatic responses are not a good fit for social media. Companies should consider responding personally to any feedback by addressing problems as soon as possible. Even a short answer, such as a request for a more detailed description of the problem, can show the customer and those following the discussion that a company values contact with its customers and is responsive to their needs.

Social media provides benefits to small business owners by allowing them to reach out and keep in close contact with their customers and prospects. This connectedness can also have its downsides. Some customers may be extremely eager to post negative comments on the internet and you may have difficulty controlling this behavior.

What should companies and organizations do when they receive negative comments on social media? We have collected several tips for dealing with negative feedback.

Issue a Fast and Personal Response

A quick response is essential to handle a customer’s issues, but remember that social media is different from other forms of communication, such as phone calls. If you are not online when a customer posts a problem, it can sit there unresolved for the whole world to see.

It is important for small business owners to have a virtual assistant that handles their social media accounts in order to maintain immediate and ongoing communication with customers. A virtual assistant manages social media accounts, can spot negative comments, and knows how to handle them.

Hundreds or even thousands might see a Twitter message in just a few minutes. The longer a company does not respond to the situation, the worse the image may form about the company.

Modern and effective media monitoring services and active customer service representatives can provide timely reactions. Media monitoring helps identify negative comments, even if they are not addressed directly to someone. The service enables companies to participate in discussions that otherwise might be more difficult to find.

To speed up your response in dealing with negative comments, you can

  • Dispatch your virtual assistant to reach out quickly.
  • Hire a public relations company to post positive content such as press releases.
  • Send a direct message (DM) to the customer and try to handle the complaint yourself.
  • Offer the disgruntled customer some form of free giveaway or discount.
  • Request the customer to complete a survey.
  • Give the customer a full refund.
  • Ask the customer to delete the post after you have corrected the problem.

  • Deleting comments yourself could only make the situation worse, but if the person who posted them does it, it may look better. If a company censors negative comments, it can lead to a bad reputation and a lot of frustration.

    Avoid Empty Apologies

    It’s important to try to keep discussions with customers friendly and professional. When the company makes a mistake, it needs to issue an honest apology. At all costs, it should avoid the formal apologies often used in corporate communications known as nonapologies. Being sincere is better.

    During formal nonapologies, companies and organizations often push responsibility aside. They do not admit that they’ve made mistakes. Such excuses don’t improve the company's image. The hashtag #nonapology consists of tweets of empty corporate apologies every day on Twitter, demonstrating how people can circulate those tweets and other insincere messages widely.

    Honest apologies show that companies and organizations are honest and willing to admit their mistakes. They also illustrate how companies and organizations do not want to put themselves above their customers.

    It is incredibly important for customer service to be professional and polite. Although discussions on social media are often relaxed and personal, companies and organizations should maintain their professionalism. Such behavior reflects well on the brand. It gives customers the impression that you want to handle situations professionally and effectively.

    A professional and calm manner and a willingness to compromise are important. The customer does not necessarily have to be right, but the customer must always feel valued.

    Consider Conducting Private Conversations

    If finding a mutual solution takes longer or is difficult in other ways, consider leading the discussion into a more private conversation. This also can create a positive image with customers, because personal contact can show respect that cannot be expressed as Facebook comments or other more public ways.

    Private messages allow participants to discuss problems better without attracting the attention of the rest of the world. Customers might be able to relax, simply because the company has personally accepted the task of solving the problem. Phone calls are particularly personal and may satisfy customers further.

    Identify troublemakers

    The internet also has trolls who knowingly try to provoke angry reactions from others. They may do this on their own just to cause trouble, completely independent of the company or organization.

    If a customer is clearly unwilling to resolve the problem and is acting unprofessionally, a company or organization may choose to end the discussion. It doesn't help anyone to keep talking incessantly without any resolution. If a customer’s negative comments don't stop, an organization or company could report the troublemaker to the social media app’s support desk.


    A comparatively less common keyword research mistake nowadays is that one may limit posts to one keyword each. However, many different terms are synonymous or otherwise related – and posts can fit many keywords.

    Consider, for example, users with informational intent; they may search for “pros and cons” on a given subject. There is little reason why you shouldn’t also include “advantages and disadvantages” in the same post as well. Similarly, users with transactional intent may search for “buy smart TV”, so why should you exclude the synonymous “purchase smart TV”? As long as you can make your content appear organic, it would be a mistake to limit posts to a single keyword.

    About Author

    Patrick Bailey is a Professional Writer, Now associated with Patrick Baileys.


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