Social media has changed the relationship between businesses and buyers. We’ve shifted from companies having complete control over their reputations to two-way partnerships where customers have more power than ever before. One wrong post, and your business can be hit with waves of negative comments that sting just as bad as poor customer reviews.

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The Guide to Winning More Business Online


Businesses aren’t the only ones who can share a message with large audiences. Consumers voice their opinions online through social media, creating viral sensations and following influencers that stand toe-to-toe with most marketing teams. Business owners need to respect the power of social media as these comments influence how existing and potential customers perceive your brand.

That’s why I sat down with experts from Thryv’s social media team to discuss how small business owners should manage their social media reputations. I wanted to give you an inside look at how social teams work and what they do to manage these situations.

But first, let’s break down what reputation management is and why it matters on social.

What is reputation management in social media?

Reputation management is what you do to protect your brand. For social media, that means responding to comments, managing customer reviews, and posting content your audience loves.

Reputation management isn’t just for negative comments. It also includes how you respond to people who boast about your brand. These individuals are extremely valuable because they’re more likely to make repeat purchases. In fact, research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to more than a 25% increase in profit – meaning, positive comments are just as important as negative ones, because these are the relationships you hope to nurture over time.

what is reputation management for social media

Why does your reputation matter on social media?

People are spending more time online. Nearly half of Gen Z and Millenials say they interact with people on social media more than in real life. Gen X’ers and Boomers aren’t far behind – 1 in every 5 communicates more on social media than in person.

People are doing more business online, too. 48% of people use social media to research products before making a purchase, and most look at your customer reviews and the top comments made on recent posts.

chart with social media usage data


Social media isn’t like running a website or managing a storefront. You can’t control everything online, and you definitely don’t have as much say in how people act. While it’s great for getting the word out about your business, social media is also an invitation for feedback.

That’s why it’s important to have a reputation management strategy. It helps you navigate tricky conversations and protects your brand online.

How to Manage Your Reputation on Social Media

I sat down with Thryv’s social team to discuss managing your social media reputation. We talked about best practices, tools you can use, and how small business owners can maximize their resources. Let’s review some of the key takeaways from our Thryv social media experts, Ed Balusek, Nicole Philip, and Gabe Vasquez.

Follow your brand’s theme and tone.

For some people, social media is scary. Every time you post, you’re opening the door to feedback. Some are comments from people you really care about, and others are just jabs aimed at stirring the conversation.

The best way to navigate social media is to be true to your brand. You can’t please everyone, but you can build a positive reputation for customers. After all, these are the people you want to impress – those who are actually going to buy from your brand, not the trolls who want to kick up some dirt.

social media advice from nicole phillip

Nicole had an excellent recommendation for social media strategy. She advised starting with a social media playbook. It will describe your brand’s tone and how you should look and act online. It will be your North Star whenever you get into a tricky situation where you aren’t sure if you should respond to a comment or take the conversation offline.



  • Be afraid to be personable with your audience.
  • Copy other brands.

Don’t take negative comments personally.

People act differently online than they do in person. They’re hidden behind their social media accounts, so they might feel empowered to speak freely.

When you receive a negative comment, you can’t take it personally. Escalating the situation will make matters worse for your business. Other followers might jump in to comment, bringing more attention to the conflict.

Instead, it’s better to stay level-headed and consider this an opportunity to win a customer’s trust. Here’s a great tip I discussed with Gabe Vasquez, a former reputation manager:

reputation management advice for social media


  • Take a step back and analyze the situation.
  • Proofread your comments before responding.
  • Move the conversation offline, if needed.


  • Use a negative or angry tone.
  • Rush to respond right away.

Treat social media like a customer service channel.

Social media isn’t just a marketing tool. It’s a two-way communication channel that customers use for support, too.

Expect some customers to ask questions about your products and services or have general inquiries about your business, like working hours or refund policies. These customers aren’t trying to put your company on blast – they just prefer to use social media to communicate with companies.

Other customers will turn to social media to leave negative reviews. Facebook and X (Twitter) are two of the most common platforms to do this. Facebook has a customer reviews feature, while X makes it easy to tag a business with a direct comment, making these sites more likely to generate more negative reviews than TikTok or Instagram.

chart showing social media trolls


Ed Balusek is a social media star at Thryv. During our discussion, he recommended the following when it comes to social media customer service:

“Respectfully handling customer support inquiries on your social channels will not only build trust with those who need help, but will also put you in the good graces of those who witness the interaction – you get a chance to look professional and courteous online.”


  • Start with an apology – even if you’re not in the wrong.
  • Rectify the situation, if possible.
  • If the conversation gets tense, provide a direct phone or email and try to take the conversation offline.


  • Delete negative comments.
  • Argue with customers.

Respond to all comments.

Here’s a topic that I brought up during our discussion: how do you respond to comments on social media?

It’s important to respond to all your social media comments – both positive and negative. Positive reviews give you a chance to thank your customers, while negative reviews are an opportunity to show that you care.

Try to respond within 24 hours, but keep in mind that each social media platform operates differently. For example, customers expect you to respond within 2 hours on sites like Facebook and X, and on Instagram, they expect it within the hour.

Start the conversation by addressing the customer by their first name – it’s respectful and makes the person feel seen. You should also sign your name at the end of each response because that will let the customer know that you are a real person and they can contact you directly, if needed.

If the situation calls for it, send them your contact information so they can call or text you. That will bring the conversation offline, reducing the chance of additional comments being made on your page.

Pro Tip: You can use an online reputation management tool to respond to comments on Facebook, Yelp, and other review sites.


  • Answer quickly. Respond within 24 hours, if possible.
  • Address people by their first name.
  • Sign your name.


  • Ignore negative or positive comments.
  • Force a conversation offline.

If you have multiple social media channels, you might wonder how you’ll respond to all of your customer comments — especially if you don’t have a social media team that monitors things 24/7.

One solution is reputation management software. These tools connect your social channels to one place, so you don’t have to switch between apps when responding to each comment. They save you time and help you stay on top of social media while balancing a busy work day.

Social Media Reputation Management Software

Here are three reputation management tools that came up several times during our discussion. They’re great for scheduling and publishing content, and you can use them to manage all of your social media accounts in one place.

1. Thryv

Thryv has both a social media management tool and an online reputation manager. Its social media tool helps you plan and organize campaigns across all your accounts. AI features also improve your social content by offering suggestions for captions, hashtags, and more.

The reputation management tool connects your review sites to one platform, so comments from Facebook, Yelp, Google, and other directories are funneled to a single place. You can quickly respond to each without switching between sites or remembering your login credentials. This connection saves you time while ensuring your customer reviews don’t slip through the cracks.

2. Buffer

buffer - social media reputation manager


Buffer is a social media manager that creates a thread for all your unanswered comments. When a new comment is posted, it’s added to a list like an email inbox. You can then go through the list and respond to each comment on the platform where someone left it.

Buffer also uses a satisfaction analysis feature to help you organize each comment. Its AI determines if the customer is asking a question, leaving a negative review, or commenting about a purchase. You can then reorganize your list based on these categories and respond to the most important comments first.

3. Sprinklr

sprinklr - social media reputation manager

Sprinklr is a social media tool designed for marketing teams. It provides real-time insights into performance, including average response times, unique engagements (individual interactions online), and other data points that show how well your content is resonating with your audience.

It also has tools for monitoring social channels. For example, when you log in, you can see how many of your coworkers are online and how many of them are actively working on conversations. You can also see how positive your followers’ comments have been in the past 24 hours.

Managing Your Reputation on Social

Modern businesses rely on social media, but it’s different from many other marketing channels. Customers have real power on these platforms, and your business needs to know how to engage with them effectively.

When done right, social media is a versatile tool for small businesses. Use these tips to improve your social media strategy and keep your business on the right side of customer perception online.

The Guide to Winning More Business Online

The Guide to Winning
More Business Online

Want customers to find you online? A website is not enough.