If you are a marketer for any brand or business, big or small, chances are you see social media as a double-edge sword. Social media provides multiple outlets for increasing brand awareness and promoting products or services. In the past decade, it’s expanded the marketing reach of businesses exponentially. Additionally, sites such as Twitter and Facebook create opportunities for brands and users to interact and engage with each other. On the other hand, social media also opens the door for customers to post about their negative experiences or reviews. This can be especially devastating for restaurants or law firms who depend on reviews to generate new business.

What should you do in the case of a complaint or angry review once it’s posted publicly for all to easily see? First, be sure that you are aware of these reviews. Set Google Alerts for the major review websites, such as Yelp, FourSquare, Trip Advisor, Google Reviews, Angie’s List and anything else that may apply to your business. You can customize your alerts to particular negative keywords or phrases, or just take a quick scan through those sites on a regular basis. On Twitter, have particular search terms set up in a feed (i.e. “Don’t go to {your company’s} store”) or even just your company’s name so that you know what’s being said about you in real-time. You can create this search in a new tab on your computer and monitor new posts with that keyword throughout the day. That way, you’ll know when those comments are posted so you can address them quickly! As a rule, be as aware as possible of all comments that may be made about your business on social media. There are lots of ways to do it and many tools to utilize.

Once you see these reviews, make a decision on whether or not this comment warrants a response. If it is a valid complaint, respond as quickly as possible. According to an Oracle study, 81% of Twitter users expect a same-day response in these situations. Same day often means within just a few hours. If the response comes later than that, the user will likely equate that to no response at all. Quicker is better, and a response that recognizes the specific complaint will show that customer that your company cares.

When drafting responses on any form of social media, acknowledge the problem – don’t deny it. Give the user an actionable item, such as “Call our customer service line at 1-800-IMSORRY” or “Send us a direct message with your contact information and we can send you a refund.” By giving the upset customer a way to resolve or improve the situation, you again show that the company cares and wants to right the wrong. This will pay customer service dividends!

Even though you may not be an official customer service representative, if you manage any social media account, it’s a good idea to stick by the mantra, “The customer is always right.” Be sure that you reveal that sentiment in your responses! And remember – since it’s social media, your response can and will be seen by more than just one person. It’s public information accessible by all, and you want to be as human as possible.