When I first noticed, I tried to open a support chatroom with my hosting provider, BlueHost, to get some additional information, as I’d done on other occassions. Not available.
Didn’t receive an email from BlueHost either, saying whether it was a planned outage or an unexpected emergency.
So, I checked to see if there was a BlueHost Twitter account tweeting any useful information. Turns out, the @bluehost account had been suspended.
Then I asked other tweeters if they were experiencing any outages on their BlueHost sites. Oh boy, were they. And they were pissed off!
Having worked in IT for a while, I can get it: whether due to human error or machine failure, stuff happens. When you least want it to. When you least expect it to. When you can least afford it to.
This is the Internet, after all!
And because this is the Internet after all, what I don’t get (and what alot of people on #bluehost didn’t get) is why there was no communication from BlueHost to their customers about what was happening.
There’s Twitter. There’s Facebook. There’s email. There’s the BlueHost homepage, which, ironically, was still live throughout the incident. Nothing.
I’ve been happy with BlueHost’s support and their service level. Responsive. Reliable. And, truth be told, for a sitewide outage, a resolution time of less than two hours is pretty damn good.
But there’s no way to sugarcoat this middle-of-the-workday incident: It was a classic marketing and social media #fail.
So, what’s the point of all of this?
The point is, if you’re marketing or servicing customers on the Internet, it’s crucial to have a social media presence. Not just for lead generation. But to be able to respond quickly to the needs of your customers or business associates. Especially in a time of crisis or change.
But, you say, “I’m in network marketing, things like that don’t happen.”
- Your company changes the comp plan.
- A marketing tool you were using through your company is now being retired (this happened to me recently)
- You decide to change companies
- Your company discontinues a popular product
- Your company has a lawsuit filed against it
- Your company declares bankruptcy
- Your websites go offline for about two hours!
- You don’t know if you’ll have a crisis until it happens. And, you won’t know what that crisis will be until it happens. So, why not think now about how you’d deal with one?
Here are some suggestions that include both public and private ways to leverage social media to get the word out when you’ll need to the most:
- Encourage your business associates and readers to follow you on Twitter
- Create a Twitter #hashtag for certain topics related to your business
- Set up a keyword alert on Tweetlater so you’ll be notified if your name or brand is mentioned on Twitter (great for responding to problems/concerns/issues that aren’t brought directly to your attention)
- Create a Google alert for keywords related to your business
- Set up a Facebook group (by invitation-only, if you like) for your business associates
- Set up an email list specifically for your business associates
- Host a webinar or conference call when needed
This isn’t to suggest that you need to be monitoring your social media presence 24/7. Part of the benefit of establishing public means of communication is that other people can talk amongst themselves and, where possible, solve problems and clarify issues.
But it’s important to lay the foundation in advance. That will allow you to respond quickly and appropriately in a time of real crisis. And in those moments, at least you’ll be able to address concerns and listen to questions, if not solve the actual problem.
The key thing to remember: First and foremost, people want to be heard and responded to. Particularly your customers, readers, and business associates. Once they have the experience you’re listening to them, then they’ll be more apt to cut you some slack.
So, give the people what they want: Communication channels!