The good news? It’s easier than ever to put things “out there” to be seen.
The bad news? You still can’t pick and choose exactly what people are reading about you.
Social media works a lot like other social things: people talk. Some of the best known platforms function almost like a real-time conversation – if you use Twitter or Facebook, you know that only recent stuff shows up prominently in your feed. With these platforms, it is usually a matter of offering content that is immediately delivered, immediately consumed, and then gone (assuming you avoid the kind of incendiary comment that occasionally “goes viral”).
On the other hand, if you blog, or if you publish articles in the online trade press, you can count on your words remaining visible for a long time (at least by modern standards). But here’s the thing: it’s not just the main text that has a long life. It’s the comment section, as well.
Comment sections, while in their best iteration a place for true discourse, can also host less than complimentary feedback. In September 2013, mainstream publication Popular Science shut off the majority of its comment sections because they were inundated with inflammatory chatter. Other sites have recently done the same, notably the Huffington Post, which implemented a comment system that allowed only people with verified Facebook accounts to post. The consensus among publishing industry experts is that the most productive comment sections are those owned by magazines that have the resources to hire moderators… lots of moderators, working full-time.
Business-to-business publications don’t have those resources. The work of moderating comments falls to the writers. Luckily, deliberately provocative posters – or “trolls,” as they are known in Internet jargon — rarely bother with the niche publications of the trade press. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any negative comments posted in response to your piece. In fact, the more informed and articulate the comment, the more important it is that you take notice of it and respond. Answering legitimate questions posed by commenters can enhance your professional reputation, as well. So take the time to follow up on your article’s comment section — the constructive dialogue that results may be some of the best PR you can get.