Urban Outfitters is in the middle of a controversy, and it’s trending on Twitter. The company is accused of copying an independent jewelry designer’s creations, and people have taken to the Interwebs about it.

Urban Outfitters is also on Twitter, but so far they haven’t responded to the issue there. And they should.

There are plenty of examples of companies who responded well and poorly to crises playing out over social media. At this point, there’s really no excuse for failing to respond. If there’s a conversation going on, you need to be part of it. And you need to be part of it where it’s happening.

Do you work for an organization? Does your organization have a social media plan? If not, start working on one now. And remember, just because you’re not on a social media site doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. You need to be looking as broadly as possible.

Here are a few questions to get you started on your plan:

1) Who is our audience?
2) How do they use social media?
3) What monitoring tools are available to us?
4) How do we respond to common topics and issues that arise in our existing communications?
5) How can we adapt those to different kinds of social media sites?

Just as your approach to each site should be different, your method of responding to criticism or praise should depend on what site you’re using. Twitter is not Facebook is not YouTube is not Foursquare.

Learn. Think. Prepare.

You can’t anticipate everything, but the more you’ve done in advance, the better off you’ll be when the surprise comes. What’s stopping you?