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Don't forget to take customer complaints into account

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Small-business owners who don't have unlimited marketing budgets to roll out integrated initiatives that cost a lot of money may want to consider using user-generated content to add to their customer base.

"Brands [can] use user-generated content to get authentic experiences and opinions from their audience…be it good or bad," said Steve Hulford, founder and creative director of Filemobile.

Not enough small-firm owners are taking the accounts of their clients into consideration when building their websites and their marketing plans. Recent research conducted by marketing consultants hiring firm The Experts Bench found only 46 percent of businesses are utilizing user-generated content.

Firms can show customers they care
Small-business owners who have a website or social media presence have a better opportunity to showcase how they want to cater to the needs of their customer base by allowing them to post opinions on such outlets. Instead of shying away from negative feedback, embracing it allows small-business owners to understand what is bothering customers and what they can do better to improve upon their offerings.

"We leave [negative comments] up so people are more open," said lead consultant for TEB Cindy Toy. "We will discuss, we won’t delete it … [especially] if it’s an issue we can change."

Negatives comments can be positive
When customers post feedback that isn't the biggest endorsement for a brand, it is up to the small business owner and their team to take that comment and use it to their advantage. 

"A negative comment really is an opportunity," said lead consultant Ed Peterson for TEB. "It’s a chance to see where there’s a problem and … also a chance to interact with someone that took the time to engage you online."

Don't engage in battles with customers
Social media is a great opportunity to talk to customers who are less than pleased with the company. However, many small-business owners make the mistake of duking it out with clients who post negative comments. In case these disputes get out of hand, it's important to always have small business insurance policies that can provide protection in the event of a lawsuit.

An article for Forbes outlined a better strategy for turning online critics into return customers, which includes being polite as possible and taking all of their requests into consideration, as well as responding to all posts to make sure no customer feels neglected.

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