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Social networks as service status sites

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday November 8, 2010 )

My web hosting service had an outage on the weekend, albeit relatively brief. And when I say outage, I mean outage.

Even the network status site was down. When that craps out, you know something very big and potentially very nasty is happening – over 500 servers off the air, along with the company’s own site.

In years gone by, this would have resulted in a frantic scrabble by customers to gain information any way they could and usually the reasons for the outage obtained from this research would turn a nameserver on the fritz to the data-center being wiped out by the CIA.

Twitter to the rescue.

Instead of going into total silence as some web hosts have a tendency to do in these situations, one of the enterprising staffers hit Twitter – and stayed there until the disaster was over an hour or so later.

It turns out that a construction worker cut through some fiber optic cable down the road from the data center. Isn’t it amazing how in this day and age, we’re still so dependent on cords. Even scarier is that relatively thin submarine cables (a few inches in diameter) are what keep a lot of Internet communications alive around the world.

Yet, I digress.

This lifeline of communication was critical in keeping clients informed – and an informed customer is one less likely to tie up phone lines, inundate a ticket system or head for the nearest competitor. The fallout, both in time and money, from a major snafu can go on for weeks as a result.

Kudos WestHost, now that’s using social media as it should be utilized.

The idea of using social networks for company communications can be frightening, after all, social networks are a two-way street, right? The answer is no; they don’t have to be. There’s no law saying you must use them in this way – if you’re concerned about the time you’ll need to put in responding to tweets and comments, just be upfront you’re using the service for announcements only. (By the way, you can also turn off commenting functions in Facebook anyway).


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