When you're running a business, you've got a lot to deal with. Whether you offer a service, provide a product, or run a restaurant, there are plenty of issues that come up in your day-to-day life, such as being booked for the day and having an employee call out sick or running out of an ingredient for everyone's favorite dish.

While many customers are understanding when everything doesn't go as planned, some just feel the need to be heard. If you look at the Twitter account for any airline, you'll see that even when planes are grounded due to inclement weather, or flights are delayed for safety reasons, passengers will still be disappointed that more wasn't done to make their travel experience better.

JD Power found that two-thirds of consumers have used a company's social media site to seek customer service. They could be looking for answers to simple questions, simply commenting on an experience, or letting off steam after a bad interaction and looking for a solution. Regardless of the motive, it's important to be a part of the conversation and responding. The best ways to find out what customers are saying about you on social media are:

  • Facebook: Use Facebook Pages app and regularly checking messages, posts, and reviews
  • Twitter: Set up Tweetdeck to track mentions and keywords
  • Mobile: Monitor all accounts with Hootsuite

More than Reviews

If you own a brick and mortar store, you already know the impact that websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and FourSquare can have, both for good and bad. However, reviews on these websites and apps are seen by other users, and not necessarily their own networks of friends. Instead, many would opt to post to a social network. Even if you don't have a designated social media manager, you need to make sure that someone is in charge of monitoring major social networks. Here's how:

Facebook

If someone posts on their personal Facebook update about your business, unfortunately there isn't much you can do. However, if someone had a bad experience and are posting about it, there's a good chance they want you to know about it and are either @tagging your Facebook page, posting on to your page, or leaving a Facebook review with their comments on your page.

The best way to keep an eye on your Facebook activity is to download the Pages app and turn notifications on. This way, when someone comments on your updates, sends you a private message, or posts to your page you'll be notified right away and able to respond from your phone. Through the app, you can also click the three dots on the bottom right to check your reviews, set up your instant reply to messages that come in, and find if anyone has mentioned you by tagging you in their own public post.

Twitter

It's no secret that Twitter is a favorite place for timely complaints looking for a quick reply. Generally, users will tweet @you or send you a direct message when they're looking for a reply, and if they want more people to see the message (to sort of spread the word to their followers) they'll add in some hashtags. 

The best way to monitor Twitter is through the online or desktop dashboard Tweetdeck, which is a free product by Twitter. In Tweetdeck, you set up panes which can track and alert you to a number of things. In this example, you can see how I would be able to monitor the feed of posts from people I follow, but I can also see tweets from people who @mentioned me, notifications if I received follows or retweets (where people will often add their own thoughts, which is good to monitor), and track a hashtag - this is where you'd want to add a search for your company name being used as a hashtag instead of your profile. You can also add a pane for direct messages, lists of specific people you follow, and more.

Although Tweetdeck has great functionality since it is built by Twitter, its biggest download is that there is no mobile version, and other apps like Tweetbot aren't free to use. When you're not near a desktop computer throughout the day, there's still a solution.

Mobile Monitoring

If you need a social media monitoring solution for mobile, your best bet to start is likely Hootsuite. With a free account you can monitor up to 3 social media profiles, choosing from Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn. If you need to monitor and post to more than 3 accounts, you can get the pro version for $9.99/month. Hootsuite is one of the most-used social posting and marketing services, which is a favorite both of small businesses and companies like Five Guys, Monster.com, and the City of New York.

Regardless of how you watch for messages mentioning your business, all that matters is that you're listening. Sometimes, simply responding and apologizing is enough for people to think you really care, and maybe they'll try you again. Or, at least maybe now they won't leave a longer-lasting review on Yelp. Assign social media monitoring to someone who writes well and is cool-headed - one that won't respond rudely or by blaming customers. Plus, there are plenty of social media marketers that will be happy to monitor, respond to, and resolve issues on social media so it's one less thing for you to have to deal with.

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