Around this time last week, Social Times got heads up from HootSuite about a rolling release of some enhancements to its platform. Who could have predicted that the next day would bring a web outage that would take down HootSuite and a number of other prominent companies in the social media space?
The features — new URL shortening options, HTTPS security on both web and mobile dashboards and additional language localizations — are rolling out. How HootSuite managed its outage during and after the event is a crisis management lesson from which all companies can learn.
The latest updates come less than a month after we reported HootSuite’s acquisition of Firefox add-on TwitterBar.
Owl.Li and Htl.Li URL Shortener Addresses
The civil unrest in Libya, for whom the Top Level Domain .LY is reserved, generated both political and technical concerns. As of this morning, HootSuite now offers two other shortening options using the .LI domain reserved for Litchtenstein. Use of these URL shortners is the same as their predecessors.
The HootSuite blog provides more information on Owl.li and Htl.li, as well as details and references on the worldwide distribution of .LY domain name servers to address technical concerns over existing URLs.
With HTTPS, users can opt for a more secure data transfer when logged in to the web dashboard on public networks. Messages and accounts are protected with SSL/TLS — including “cookies” which track session login status and can be exploited to gain access to accounts. All of HootSuite data can be encrypted, preventing access from unsecured networks. HootSuite mobile apps — iPhone/iPad, BlackBerry and Android — are also HTTPS-ready.
As an additional security measure, HootSuite’ secure profile feature is now available on its mobile implementations. To help prevent mobile mishaps, when social profile team members post to a secured profile, they see a pop-up that prompts to confirm or cancel the message.
Yesterday, HootSuite released a Spanish localized version of its web dashboard as a result of its crowd-sourced translation project. Additionally, Dutch and Portuguese mobile implementations are due later this week.
Now, about that outage
When you’re a web-centric company and your web services go down for 15 hours, some of your customers are bound to be distressed. (If you were off-planet last week, know that Amazon Web Services suffered significant technical issues that affected HootSuite and many other highly-visible companies on Thursday, April 21.) As is typical, some of the public dismay was appropriate and some out-of-proportion to the problem. HootSuite details what occurred, its actions during the outage and how it plans to “make it right” for its customers in a great blog post. The company is going beyond its terms of service to provide a credit for its analytics tool to all users — for a problem not of its cause.
During the outage, I followed the updates of HootSuite (and others) on a number of platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. I observed HootSuite provide information when it had it and resist posting speculation; allow its community of users to discuss the issue based on what was known without interruption to attempt to spin the matter; and resist the false urgency of “creative complainers” to which other companies succumb.
Be transparent, do the right thing, know when to “hoot” and know when to keep quiet. Brands, such as HootSuite, that work this way consistently are likely to have less of a “spike” of issues during a crisis, as well as a more rapid return to normalcy after.
Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, with a track record of success across linear, digital and social media. Join his conversation on Twitter or email Neil to talk about marketing or swap recipes.