It might seem like every friend, family member, business and their dog is using Facebook. And, considering that Facebook is the most used website in a host of countries, this is understandable.

However, when it comes to business, many companies still refuse to embrace the power of social media.

Reasons why include, it’s ‘confusing’, ‘too time-consuming’ or ‘ineffective’.

However one of the most common reasons businesses cite for not using social media is that they don’t want people to talk negatively about them.

Yet the truth is – they already are.

Your company doesn’t need to be Tweeting or updating a Facebook page for people to say detrimental things about you. There are blogs, forums and review sites that they can use for that very reason.

The problem is – unless you are actively looking for negative communications, you won’t be able to respond.

In contrast, if a customer posts something negative on your Facebook wall, you are notified and can respond quickly.  The adverse comment will have a great lesser impact if you reply promptly and provide a solution. It shows other customers you care.

However, responding is not enough – you need to respond in the right way.

Another reason companies aren’t using social media is they simply don’t know how. Social media is about communicating with your customers on a more personal level. No-one likes receiving an automated response when they send a company an e-mail query. The same logic applies to how you use social media platforms.

Don’t send the same response to every complaint – and don’t simply ask them to give you a call to discuss the matter (unless this is a necessity for legal reasons).

Other customers want to see how you handle the problem. If you simply ask to be called, how do they know you even picked up the phone?

In addition, never be too corporate in your response. Be professional, yes. But talk to the customer in a friendly and caring way. Show that there is a human behind that computer screen; not a robot hitting copy and paste.

If you use social media correctly it can be an asset to your business. Even negative criticism can be turned around to reflect on you positively. You can build your brand image, learn more about what your consumers want and create long-term, loyal customers.

If you do need more help with running a social media campaign, you might benefit from enlisting the help of a social media agency. Not only can they ensure you communicate in the right way – but they can ensure social media is not ‘confusing’, ‘time-consuming’ or by any means ‘ineffective’.