I use Hootsuite daily.
You likely know that Hootsuite is a useful social media dashboard application. It helps manage client’s multiple social networks from one website.
Specifically, I spend a few hours each week writing relevant Tweets of interest, and scheduling updates to my client’s Twitter account, as explained in previous blog postings.
You might also know that late last week, Hootsuite was one of the applications that was affected by a severe service outage. Hootsuite crashed for almost a full business day.
How Did The Crash Happen?
I’m over-simplifying here, but here’s how I understand it. Hootsuite is one of several applications that use Amazon web services and databases to provide “cloud computing” capability so users can log onto the applications from the cloud.
There was a total, unforeseen failure of Amazon's web services and database functionality (not the Amazon site itself, but their web services). Unfortunately all recovery or fail-safe strategies crashed as well.
Other popular websites and services that went dark that day were Reddit and Foursquare. They were crippled or outright disabled well into the early afternoon.
Other folks far more technically savvy then me are writing about this outage, and putting it in its proper perspective.
A Marketing Communications Challenge
My concern in this post is a little more mundane, but relates to marketing communications.
Hour after hour, as I tried to unsuccessfully log in to Hootsuite, what was displayed was very snarky error page. (pasted above).
More than snarky, it was downright rude. As the error page said in multiple languages: “Owls need a break sometimes, too. We’ll be back in action, but in the meantime go outside and flap your wings around, you may find that flying aint’ very easy.”
Granted, after about five or so hours a more professional and “Kinder” error page was displayed, but this one really missed the mark.
Missed Opportunity for Positive Branding
The error page bugged me every time it was displayed.
It created a certain perception about Hootsuite's service and brand.
Even though it wasn’t a critical situation by any means (nobody died), I lost a few hours worth of work since the outage resulted in losing 4 or 5 days worth of Tweets scheduled in advance.
So here’s to paying attention to content on an error page. Seeing a directive to “go outside and flap your wings around” set quite a negative and dismissive tone, and wasn’t an effective use of positive branding or marketing communications.