Social media is the biggest thing to hit business since, well, the internet was first introduced. Let’s face it, if you’re not on social media these days, you can probably guarantee that unless your business has been around for decades, you’re not going to make it.

But although social media has some amazing benefits to businesses, it also has its drawbacks. The best thing about using platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is that you can reach thousands (if not millions) of people at one time. The downside, is that you can reach thousands (if not millions) of people at one time.

Why is this bad?

As the old saying goes, “if anything CAN go wrong, it will”. And although using social media to market your business is fantastic 99% of the time, that 1% could be more detrimental than the 99% that is good.

What do we mean?

Have you seen on the news lately the reports about the cafe that refused to let a woman breastfeed her child at the dining table; and when the woman took to social media and wrote a bad review on the cafe’s Facebook, the cafe owners were forced to defend themselves, lost hundreds of customers, and suffered months of abuse?

Recently in Australia, a photographer was forced to shut down his business after he filmed the founder of the Safe Schools program harassing someone at an anti-Trump rally – and suffered months of abuse and threats online.

And in the world of enterprises, we’re often hearing stories about staff members who have posted something on their own social media page that has been taken out of context, referred back to the company they work for, and in the end – have been fired from their job (even though their original post was on a private page); or egotistical business owners who love to tell lies about their major competition.

These are just a few examples in a whirlpool of thousands, where businesses have been forced to close their doors, or staff members have been fired, thanks to a barrage of abuse and bad reviews online.

And the size of the business doesn’t come into play. A bad review can affect a large corporation just as much as a self-employed [photographer] and with the power of technology, it can reach thousands, or millions of people, within hours.

What are they missing?

While most large corporations would have one in place, when it comes to small business, they don’t often think about what could happen if things go wrong. Generally you’re too busy trying to make things work, that you don’t consider there’s another side.

Having a crisis management plan in place could be the difference between the success or failure of your business if something negative does impact on it via online marketing services.

How to Ready Yourself For a Crisis

The best way for you to stay in control of your social media and to ensure you’re prepared in the event of a crisis situation is to hire a social media manager – someone who is professionally trained to look after your accounts and who has immediate access so that if something does go wrong, they are on hand to rebut any negativity.

If you have a larger size business, allocate someone from the in-house team to take control of your online accounts. You want to ensure you respond to what is being said, and never just ignore it as that could make matters worse.

You need to be prepared for anything. And in saying that, we want you to read and re-read everything before you post it. Look at it from someone else’s point of view. A great example of this is a recent post on a magazine Facebook page where the well-meaning social media manager posted about a terrorist attack that happened the day before, added a link to a Government “travel warning” page, and commented “has a warning ever stopped you from travelling?”

Within minutes people were responding to the post, stating that it was heartless (though this was not intended); and the post was subsequently removed. Just remember to look at what you’re saying from someone else’s view point.

You also want to take notice of what other people are saying about your business and a great way to do that is to set up Google Alerts for your business name. Simply sign into your Google account; go to Google Alerts and type in your business name. That way whenever anyone tags you on social media, you can get an email sent to you, which means you can respond swiftly.

Finally, if you own a shop or take calls from clients, listen to them. If someone complains to you face to face, deal with it immediately as that will lessen the chances of them posting a bad review online. And if they do write a bad review or comment negatively, address it right away with your explanation.

NEVER delete their comment as this will simply cause more problems.

Now you’re ready for anything. Stay tuned for our next blog for advice on how you should respond, and how your business can recover, when faced with a crisis situation.