There is no need for SMEs to take any route but honesty when interacting on social media sites.
When the likes of Facebook and Twitter first came out, some organisations would try and influence opinions by pretending to be a consumer, according to Google's industry head of retail Rick Jones.
However, this is not the best option, and instead small businesses need to have an effective customer service presence.
"That works really well and can save a lot of costs as well. It also nips things in the bud, as you can understand problems more quickly but also be more in control of the conversations that are happening and influence them with your point of view," Mr Jones told Econsultancy.
Brands that are honest, transparent and responsive to their customers will find a bond of respect is built up, which in turn can positively influence how a brand is perceived by both individuals and their social media friends.
An engaging social media presence is an important part of content marketing plans, especially as simply monitoring these platforms is not enough. Being proactive is key to a successful online reputation.
Small business customer service on social media
There are several steps SMEs need to take when responding to customer queries on their social media pages.
Thanking a consumer for their feedback, whether good or bad, is essential. If good, you can state how their comments help you to know your brand is going down the right path and that you value their continued custom. If bad, you will need to deal with the complaint quickly. This may include a customer representative getting in touch via email or phone, a discount off their next purchase and a problem being rectified, such as replacing a faulty item.
It is also important to be polite and professional at all times. Social media is a public arena and the friends and followers of an individual will see the conversation between your brand and customer.
Finally, don't ignore feedback. If a customer has taken the time to praise you, this should be acknowledged. Likewise, ignoring bad comments will not work in your favour and make you appear unprofessional.
This ContentPlus blog post explains the pros of including social media sites as part of customer service operations.
What are your thoughts about dealing with customers on social media?