Using social media for crisis control
This was quite unfortunate cause the first site has been actively promoted in the media. Björk and friends are petitioning to stop the first deal where an Icelandic energy company is acquired by a foreign investor.
The unfortunate bit for Skýrr, a major hosting and IT provider in Iceland was when one of the spokes person for Orkuauðlindir suggested (Icelandic) that this might have been an attack or some sort of security breach.
The company responded (again in Icelandic) in the main online medium where the CEO stated that all computer systems are fragile and it’s not uncommon that they break down. He also left the conspiracy theory hanging, declining to comment on weather this was caused by some Magma hacker group…
It seems like system administrators and PR people where on holiday like the majority of Icelanders in July. The sites are back up, but I think Skýrr missed a trick there to neutralize the situation. You won’t find any explanation as to what happened on their site, facebook page nor twitter. Meanwhile my network of IT friends has been chatting about the potential causes and reasons on Twitter.
My thoughts are in this region as I recently stumbled upon an example where the UK Government had some issues with one of their crowdsourcing sites and this was their approach to keep people informed:
They used Twitter to feed updates as to what was causing the fail and when they expected it to be fixed.
This is what people have come to expect. I have actually been in the same scenario as Skýrr some years ago. A server at Íslenska vefstofan crashed and burned, taking many prominent websites offline for quite some time. Then we had the same approach but today I would have taken a different approach.
People expect more than a press release in cases like this. In addition to the traditional PR responses, I would follow these steps of action:
- Tell it like it is. Involve the techies and explain in layman terms what is causing the issue.
- Communicate the current status and next steps using any form of media available to you. In this case a post to the company site and facebook page and more frequent updates on Twitter might have been in order.
- Engage in conversations on social media channels to prevent guess work and conspiracy theories.