Over Capacity = Broken User Experience

The World Cup wasn’t a surprise flash mob event just ask the teams that have been working for the last four years to get there or the South African country that has been frantically building and preparing for even longer. The growth of Twitter’s user base, both domestically and internationally isn’t either. The recent Techcrunch article puts a fine point on that. So why has Twitter been caught so flat-footed with the volumes associated with the global spectacle? The Pingdom report referenced in the Techcrunch article shows Twitter’s downtime over the past several months. Even with the big outages, they’re only at 98.48% uptime. That is well over of 5 hours of downtime. Imagine if 1 out of every 20 times you turned on a light switch nothing happened. For a company that has become a virtual utility for social media, this is unacceptable.

The problem with having the hiccup now is similar to an experience we all have had. What happens when your favorite restaurant becomes the new hot spot? The problem for a restaurant that has a growing following and then gets a spike due to a great review or celebrity sighting is that it fails to make anyone happy. This failure is a two headed monster in that regulars feel unappreciated and loss of “ownership” and newbies get a less than optimal experience making them less likely to convert to regulars. So what is a growth company to do? The answer, in recipe form since we are talking restaurants, is straightforward.

1 heaping cup of humility – No one is perfect. Apologize. Be transparent with your efforts and set realistic expectations.

1 tablespoon appreciation for regulars – Mary Poppins said a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down. She is spot on. Figure out what you can do to reward and thank your regulars for their pre-crush support. You can buy a lot of twitter vuvuzelas with the $100+ million they have raised in the last 12 months (only half kidding)

1 dash of humor – remember when FourSquare was prone to drop outs and people were writing their own check-ins? Foursquare retweeted a number of these during the outages. Maybe someone should check-in @TwitterHell. We could probably get a swarm badge.

Stir vigorously and taste. Don’t worry about the salt, your customers will be happy to rub those into your wounds.

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