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updated 9/22/2014 3:46:23 PM ET 2014-09-22T19:46:23

Tweeting at the dinner table may be rude, but it also provides restaurants with a new opportunity for instant damage control.

Seventy eight percent of guests who tweet negative things about a restaurant have not yet left the venue, Twitter's Eimear Lambe said at the Digital Innovation Forum in London, reports industry publication Big Hospitality.

That means, with some careful monitoring of social media, restaurants have the chance to change their customers' minds before they leave. Lambe recommends that restaurants closely monitor Twitter to catch problems and turn potential negative online attention into a positive experience.

Related: 3 More Reasons for Brands to Use Instagram to Boost Influence and Drive Sales

Responding to negativity on Twitter and Facebook has become an integral part of customer service. However, this social media dialogue often takes the form of PR-friendly apologies, instead of immediate assistance. Realizing that much of customers' criticism occurs while they're still eating gives restaurants the chance to directly address problems. Plus, tackling criticism head-on can silence critics who spew hate and exaggerated claims online that they would be unlikely to say to a server or chef's face.

Social media, from Yelp to Twitter, increasingly guides how people choose where to spend their money. But instead of trying to ban bad reviews, restaurants need to embrace the immediacy of social media as a new way to prevent negativity from even being posted.  

Related: New Legislation Would Make Banning Negative Yelp Reviews Illegal

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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