Preparing for News About You on the Web

In the astonishing time surrounding the news of Michael Jackson’s death, there were several false rumors that other celebrities had died. I started wondering how I would react if someone posted false information about me and my business.

Now, I’m not famous, so I doubt that any news about me would cause a spike in Internet traffic, or get me invited to appear on “The Colbert Report.” But recent events made me realize that I still needed to have a plan in place to be able to respond to news (both real and false) posted online about me. Here’s what I came up with.

  • Be prepared to respond instantly. The speed with which people heard about Jackson’s death was amazing. A friend of mine who happens to be a radio announcer smugly announced on his Facebook status that he was able to broadcast the news before CNN did. So if someone posts information about you, even (or especially!) if it’s not correct, there’s no time to waste. You must comment immediately, even if it’s a bare-bones “that’s wrong, more later.”
  • Make sure that someone else has access to your accounts in case you aren’t available to post.
  • Remember that the social networks are connected. If someone is talking about you on Twitter, the same comments are probably being made on Facebook, and other places as well. Check, and be ready to respond accordingly.
  • Use Twitter and social network updates as backups to your usual means of communication. Recently, a much-hyped new web site found that it couldn’t cope with the traffic, so it put up a “down for maintenance” notice, complete with a “meanwhile, follow us on Twitter” recommendation. It was able to post updates on Twitter when its own site was overstretched.
  • Don’t rely on just one site, or just one medium, to get the word out. My customers know that they can get the latest info on my web site, a backup web site on a leased server in another state, on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and by pre-recorded phone message. I’m also experimenting with sites like Get Satisfaction and Yelp as backup information sources.

I hope that I never have to implement my emergency plans. But it’s a comfort to know that I’ll be ready if someone posts a “did you hear the news…?” message about me or my business.

How have you prepared to respond to news and rumors about you?

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