Just seven bad tweets, Facebook posts or product reviews could make potential customers think the worst about your business, and eight comments will make them consider boycotting your brand, according to new research.
A report from application software specialists SAP showed social media influences consumers more than ever before, with 12% of people stopping using a brand after seeing prolific negative social media posts.
In addition, 45% could recall a negative social media post about a business in the past six months, and 56% of consumers post or repost things about brands or companies. That figure rises to 65% for 18-35 year olds.
The average number of negative comments needed to be seen on a social network before thinking worse of the brand was just seven, and one more would make people think twice before buying from that company.
These comments could also be found on a forum, or in review sections underneath products on businesses' websites, as well as on independent social media sites.
Roland van Breukelen, solution adviser at SAP Customer On Demand, told the Huffington Post UK simply having a presence and being seen to be responding is not nearly enough to appease today's consumers.
"Social needs to be an integral part of your business, not just a peripheral part. In large retailers in particular, there tends to be a tight control on social, with only an inner circle being given access to the accounts.
"Lots of companies are listening, but the next stage of monitoring and structuring a response strategy is lacking."
A key point from the report, which was put together from more than 1,000 consumers' responses, was the customers' expectations about retailers on social networks. Almost half expected a response to a social media post within half a day, and another 28% wanted a response within an hour.
Speed wasn't the top requirement however; customers wanted a good quality response to their complaint or query more. They also wanted the response to be personalised, and for a follow up to take place after the initial query had been submitted.
If a company does respond quickly and with a personalised, quality answer:
40% would feel more valued as a customer
24% would continue using the brand
and 22% would share the news of the brand's responsiveness with online followers
However, if a company fails to respond:
26% would stop using the brand
26% would also think worse of the brand
and 21% would share the news of the lack of response with online followers
JC Mighty, customer value manager at AN Media, who analyses social media responses for a number of media companies, also recommended developing a strategy which is based around what the customer expects from your brand and your products.
"The real value from doing this right is you can turn your customer into a marketeer," he added.
The report's authors went to great lengths to state this wasn't just something for big brands to worry about, but for smaller firms with tight resources, hiring a social media guru wasn't necessary - it was more about changing your business operation to take social media engagement into account at every level.
There was also criticism for firms who palmed off social media responsibilities on the younger members of staff, simply because they were off the 'Twitter generation'. This should be a board member level responsibility, van Breukelen said.
Would you stop using a brand just because it had received negative comments online? Let us know your thoughts below.