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How to control the narrative about your business on social media

Like it or not, social media is affecting your business right now. Even if you don’t have a Facebook and Twitter account (you should), customers, the public, and even current and former employees can review your business on open sites like Yelp, Google and Glass Door.

Rather than burying your head in the sand and hoping it’s all positive, your best bet is to be proactive and help to create and steer the narrative of your business’ public profile. Here’s how:

Have a company social media policy

Did you know that over 16 million Canadians have accounts on Facebook? That’s almost 50% of the population. Even if you or your company doesn’t have a social media presence, it is a good bet that some of your employees are active on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn—or all three. A misstep can create significant damage and harm your company’s reputation. Implementing a social media policy enables you to:

  • Provide your employees with tools and awareness of the appropriate use of social media
  • Protect your company’s confidential information
  • Advise your employees on the conditions of accessing and using social media in the workplace
  • Create awareness of the risks and unexpected consequences of improper use of social media

Companies of all sizes need to understand social media can have both positive and negative effects.

  • Positive: Your employees' involvement in social media may be an untapped resource when you are looking to fill an opening, promote a new product or generate some positive brand attention
  • Negative: Your employees can spend hours of company time online reducing productivity or may bad-mouth the company or a client without your knowledge

Developing a social media policy can clarify expectations for employees and protecting your business.

Online reviews: what to do if they’re fake

Yelp and Google are two of the main sites where people can write reviews. Employees can review their employer on Glass Door. There are also some other sites, and their processes will be similar. Yelp and Google understand there are fraudulent reviews and some are not genuine. Therefore, they have a process for removal. You have to make a request to the administrators.

If the fraudulent reviews are on Yelp:Contact Yelp directly and read the How To Respond To Comments about the proper steps (for example, how to respond with a public comment rather than a direct message).

If the fraudulent reviews are on Google: You can flag the comments for review. Google does not get involved regarding the facts. However, if you explain these are not actually customers, but are actually friends of a disgruntled customer, they may agree to remove the posts.

Also, you can choose to respond to their comments online. Carefully consider your response before posting, as you don’t want to get drawn into a public argument. Google and Yelp reviews are open forums that cannot be censored if the customer complaints are legitimate, or even partially legitimate. If Google and Yelp refuse to take down the negative review, the best practice is to do your best to appear to be publicly trying to rectify the issue.

You can turn negative feedback into a positive when you:

  1. Acknowledge the statement and apologize (even if it’s not valid, always apologize)
  2. If relevant, explain what went wrong (you don’t need to be specific)
  3. State that you will learn from this and endeavour for it not to happen again
  4. Make some sort of offer to rectify the situation (a free service, gift card, etc.)

You can’t control what is said, but you can control how your company responds. Your business can set itself apart like Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Microsoft and Apple, who are known for professional responses to negative reviews.