Attention Twitter: You should be communicating better during what some are calling a crisis

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Twitter  |  Worst Practices  |  Public Relations

I'm a Twitter fan. My Twitter feed is an important way for me to communicate. And I've said many great things about Twitter at my keynotes, on this blog, and in my books.

But this weekend, Twitter has let me down.

I was reading the Boston Globe Magazine today, there was a big fat interview with Biz Stone, a cofounder of Twitter. The first question the Globe asked was: "In November, the company declined Facebook's offer to buy it for $500 million. Say what?"

Stone's answer: "We admire and respect Facebook. We are big fans, actually. They approached us, and we took it seriously. But we feel like we want to continue this path we're on -- sustaining this innovation -- and the time is not right."

Just a few minutes after reading the interview, I logged on to Twitter and found that I had received ten bogus Direct Messages.


The messages said things like "Hey check out this funny blog." I soon learned that all were phishing for me to enter my Twitter ID. (I did not). It seemed like all my Twitter friends were talking about it and I quickly found a bunch of blogs where people were describing the problem. So this is a big deal.

In my opinion, Twitter has not been communicating as well as it should be during this crisis. As I look at my friends feeds, nearly everyone is talking about this issue. Yet, Twitter has three feeble communications as of this writing.

1) Three tweets from the @twitter ID providing a bit of information.

2) A short post on the Twitter blog

3) A warning on the Twitter home page.

Stone's interview seems a bit arrogant based on what was happening this weekend.

Many people rely on the Twitter service. Sure, it's free and we get what we pay for. But if Biz Stone and his colleagues (and the VC firms backing the company) want a bigger payday than a half a billion, then they’ll need to manage this crisis better. Much better. Starting now.

I think Twitter should be doing more to inform users.

I'd suggest hourly updates on the Twitter blog. Maybe set up a new Twitter ID that can be the official place where people go. A YouTube video that you put on the Twitter homepage to inform people. Whatever. But you've got to do more than you're doing.

The Design for Users blog has an excellent post on this subject called Communicate, Inform, Address Users When Things Go Wrong Online.