Customers have the power to make-or-break businesses through social media via sharing and by posting comments on sites such as Yelp. You can track such conversations using Topsy and other tools.

Your brand must engage customers through social media in order to survive. Here are two tips to keep in mind when thinking about your brand’s social media strategy.

Make your brand’s story the customer’s story

Every brand exists to solve a problem. For instance, Tide cleans clothes; Head & Shoulders shampoo gets rid of dandruff; and CarMax sells cars without the negotiation gimmicks.

One way to start a conversation on social is to ask customers to share their experiences, successes, and overall input about your brand. Through these interactions, you can demonstrate the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency (respond in a way the reflects the brand’s core values), persistence (respond to all comments), and restraint (resist the urge to argue with complainers and instead reply in a polite manner). In this way, your brand’s “why” (i.e., the problem it is trying to solve) is naturally infused with customers’ interactions, and the consumer’s personal side is reached in a way that may develop the coveted goal of recall.

Respond to all customer complaints (cordially)

Amy’s Baking Company was recently featured on Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay, and it ended up being the only project in the TV show’s history that Ramsay walked away from. The owners of Amy’s Baking Company took to social media in a veritable tirade, insulting customers, threatening others, and accusing people on review sites of lying. Amy’s is a prime example of how a business’s mismanagement of social media can lead to disaster. (For the case of this example, I’m assuming their social media accounts were not hacked as the owners claim.)

When customers complain, your business must respond in a cordial manner. Social media expert Jay Baer suggests creating a complaint matrix so your business can anticipate possible complaints it might receive. A complaint matrix can be a simple corkboard with arrows pointing from a complaint to a specific response, or something more advanced that involves online tools. For instance, IFTTT can track a response and notify you of a possible complaint as well as issue a quick, automated reply that supplements the solution until you have time to address it. By using a complaint matrix, it’s less likely complaints will be perceived as personal, and your business will be able to respond quickly and with an apology. Remember that your social media response can be read by anyone and, therefore, it must be consistent, persistent, and restrained.