Startup general interest

Twitter shows how to manage a crisis

By May 15, 2009 2 Comments

Anyone with half an interest in Twitter and social media will have seen the kerfuffle that ensued when Twitter removed the feature that allowed users to see @replies from people they do follow but directed towards people they don’t follow – what you might not have seen is Biz’s latest post (apparently number 4 on this topic) explaining why the change was made and what they will do going forward. 

My point in writing today is to say that this is a great post – it is clear, concise, explains why they made the change, apologises both for the PR mess and the loss of the feature, and says as much as I guess is possible today about how they will try and bring it back in the future.  Most importantly, reading it you get the strong sense that Biz/Twitter is doing the best job they can to build a great service.  This integrity has been a hallmark of Twitter communications since the get go and is one of the reasons early adopters flocked to the service in the numbers they did.

Of course Twitter is now big enough that people want to take a pop at it, and early adopters feel like too many people have turned up to crash their cool party, but this is what happens when services get popular, and if they didn’t get popular they wouldn’t last very long.  As you have probably seen Friendfeed has become the new new, even that might be getting too popular for some, as Scoble (I assume ironically) posted the following comment earlier today:

In the next hour or so I will pass 37,000 subscribers. friendfeed’s growth is accelerating. It is about time to look for a new shiny object. The celebrities will be here soon.

Back to Twitter – with hindsight I’m sure they would rather have avoided the bruhaha of the last few days, but at the same time I bet there is a feeling that if you get too careful about these sorts of things it slows down your execution, making it harder to make changes.  That isn’t good for anyone.  As I wrote earlier this week fear of failure can slow you down, and with this latest post hopefully Biz has drawn a line under this issue and moved on – showing that the consequences of making this mistake were not that large.