With a solid social media strategy in place, businesses can survive PR issues and overcome news stories that harm their brands.

New leads are great, but businesses still need to be aware of their existing customers. As Brafton reported, there’s truth to the adage “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The odds of closing a deal are much higher when a past customer is involved, which is what makes loyalty such an important part of web marketing.

Unfortunately, the real world can intrude, and companies need to make tough decisions that test the bonds with their clients. That’s Amazon’s current situation. The price of its Prime service, which offers free two-day shipping on select items, is going up – from $79 to $99 per year – and existing customers aren’t thrilled. According to a survey by Brand Keys, Amazon’s loyalty and engagement score has fallen from 93 percent to 83 percent.

Shoring up the bottom line

For a multi-billion dollar company like Amazon, a 10 percent drop in favorability isn’t difficult to weather. However, smaller businesses might suffer if they lose that kind of approval. A ten percent drop in business can eat into profits and stall growth plans for the coming year, so marketers need to be wary of irate customers who take issue with changing company policies.

Fortunately, social media marketing is a great way to head off discontent at the pass. Regardless of the route businesses take, Facebook posts, Twitter updates and content shared on other platforms can soothe tempers, or at least give companies a better understanding of what they can do to avoid similar situations in the future.

For example, they can perform damage control to at least explain the policy change to customers. Many people head to Facebook to leave comments when they want to voice frustrations. By answering questions on a case-by-case basis, brands can preserve relationships with individual existing customers and also provide information for other clients who came to pages to ask the same questions.

Customer loyalty can work in your favor

One unforeseen outcome of the Amazon Prime saga is that not all existing users were put off by the increase. In fact, many took to Twitter, leaping to Amazon’s defense and explaining why this isn’t a tremendously large hike. If businesses have active social media strategies in place and are engaged with loyal and happy customers, they can use these forums to improve a business’ online image when problems like this arise.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.