You can’t hide from negative feedback.

It’s part of the reality of running a business, and in today’s socially-connected world—it’s part of the reality of managing a Facebook or Twitter Page.

People “Like” and “Follow” brands like yours because they love the products you sell and appreciate the service you provide, and want to be kept up-to-date with everything you have going on.

But they also connect with you on social media so they have a way to have their voice heard and share their feedback—sometimes positive and sometimes negative.

While you cannot and should not hide from negative feedback on social media, you can avoid the backlash that often comes when handling feedback the wrong way. That starts with being prepared when negative feedback comes knocking at your door.

Watch this week’s Ask an Expert to find out how you should—and more importantly—should not handle negative feedback on social media from Constant Contact social media specialist, Kristen Curtiss.

Here is the transcript from our interview if you would rather read…

What can a small business do when they receive negative feedback on social media?

The first thing you want to remember is that social media is called social media for a reason. So, you want to make sure you’re connecting with your customers—whether it is positive or negative.

There’s always going to be some sort of negative feedback out there.

You want to make sure to answer your customers, connect with them, and show your entire audience on social media that you really care about what they have to say.

Make sure your response is precise and that you’re showing customers that you really want to solve their problem.

What shouldn’t a small business do when they receive negative feedback on social media?

The first thing I would say is: do not ignore negative feedback.

You’re on social media to show customers you care and that you’re really trying to take the time to connect with them. So, you want to make sure you’re addressing the issue as quickly as possible.

You’re really there to help them—that’s the reason you’re on social media. To say, “Hey, we’re here and we’re willing to help…”

It’s a great thing when you’re able to respond as quickly as you can and address the issue.

What is your best advice for a small business that has received negative feedback?

I think there are two things you need to make sure you’re doing. One is to answer it in the first 24 hours, if possible.

Social is ever-moving, people expect you to be on there all the time, and you want to make sure you’re on there looking for this feedback, and making sure to help them as soon as possible.

The second thing I would say to do is try to take it offline if it seems to go on longer than expected. Try to connect with them once or twice, and if it’s still ongoing, tell them “You can reach me at this email address…” or “You can reach me at this phone number… Please connect with me and we will make sure to satisfy your needs.”

Don’t lose sleep, just make sure you’re prepared

Is the threat of negative feedback still keeping you up at night?

You’re not alone.

But don’t toss and turn or exhaust yourself by continuously refreshing your browser expecting negative posts or tweets.

Instead, take some time to better prepare yourself for handling negative feedback so you can use it as a way to showcase your customer service and improve customer relationships online and off.

Here are a few posts that can help:

3 Lessons We Can Learn from the O’Reilly/Stewart Live Streaming Debacle

How Are You Responding to Feedback from Your Facebook Fans?

5 Tips for Turning Negative Feedback on Facebook into a WOW! Experience

Do you have your own advice for handling negative feedback on social media? Tell us in the comments.