Our Twitter account @AdvisorTweets is back, and AdvisorTweets.com, launched last week, is back up and running.
The private part of me was arguing hard in favor of announcing @AdvisorTweets’ return and leaving it at that, no explanation required. The case of the launch, mysterious disappearance and return of a Twitter account feeding a proof-of-concept Website is hardly worth bothering anyone about. (For background, see my sad Saturday post.)
“But if you, a small business, can’t explain what went wrong and why, how can you advocate transparency to your large, global clients?” asked the part of me that tries not to be a hypocrite.
In fact, there are quite a few insights from the weekend’s experience. Below are five that might be of some value to you.
1. Password management
Twitter Monday confirmed that the account was deleted “but by somebody on your end.” Deep thanks to my Twitter buddy who then instantly restored it but…ouch!
What we did wrong:
I can say categorically that I did not delete the account. If I’d said that about my @RockTheBoatMKTG account that would be the end of the story because I’m the only one with the password. @AdvisorTweets, though, was a group project involving many parties. And, last Friday a surge of traffic to the new site required an immediate server shift. In the heat of that I emailed the password to a support queue at the company that hosts the site. I know, I know.
Who deleted the password? When the answer is, “It could have been anybody,” you know you need to better safeguard your password. (And whoever deleted it, did it accidentally, I do believe.)
Before we knew we were responsible for the problem, we ran through a list of reasons Twitter could have eliminated us. Maybe we were hitting Twitter with both servers during the server transition, something that would have exceeded Twitter’s allowable limits and aroused suspicion. Were we too aggressive in our following of advisor accounts? Despite assurances to the contrary, was it feasible that Twitter didn’t like our aggregation model?
No matter which way we looked at it, there was one cold, hard, inescapable fact: That we were fully invested in a Website on which Twitter could flip the off switch.
Insight: You may not be thinking of developing a Twitter application, but remember this cautionary if you find yourself drawn to a technology solution or vendor who has no direct competition. In the event of whatever, having a Plan B, C and D can keep you operating.
When your Twitter account is gone, your list of followers, your direct messages, your tweets are all gone. If you archive your tweets, as many in financial services are required to do, your archive will minimize the loss.
What we did right: We’d been compiling our list of Twitter-using financial advisors for the last several months by following them with our @RockTheBoatMKTG account so we had a redundant list. Also, we saved all Twitter email confirmations of @AdvisorTweets followers.
What more could have been done: The value of your list of followers you've amassed over time can’t be overestimated. One way to protect the value is to ask your Twitter followers to connect with you on LinkedIn. Christopher Penn of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast recommends periodically sending a tweet: “Are we connected on LinkedIn?” LinkedIn connections, including their email addresses, can be exported to your database. That way they're yours.
What we did right: When we discovered that the Twitter account was gone Saturday morning, we knew we needed to communicate about it. Even though we’d lost the ability to tweet to the @AdvisorTweets followers, we still were able to update the blog. Later in the day, the blog was emailed to our handful of subscribers. We also published the post on RockTheBoatMarketing.com and sent out a @RockTheBoatMKTG tweet.
As the day wore on, visitors to the site first saw stale tweets and then nothing in the center of the page. We could have redirected traffic heading to Advisortweets.com to the blog but we decided not to. We wanted the site to be available in case Twitter would in fact be researching what we were up to. Yes, we sacrificed the user experience for a Twitter review. That was a decision we planned to review Monday.
What we did wrong: We posted virtually the same content on both blogs. Search engines don’t like and don’t trust duplicate content. We’re posting this on just the Rock The Boat blog, reasoning that visitors to this site are likely to be more interested in the gory details than users of AdvisorTweets.
What we did right: We know better than to promote a new Website too soon. In order to populate AdvisorTweets, though, we needed to start following advisors and wanted to take that opportunity to introduce them to AdvisorTweets. So, we published a post on this site, sent out a single tweet on the post and mentioned it on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Late in the evening, to spare @RockTheBoatMKTG followers from having to see personal messages, we notified individual advisors that we were publishing their tweets on AdvisorTweets.com.
Insight: By definition, social media promotions enlist others in spreading your marketing message. Our early traffic to Advisor Tweets was driven largely by the forwarding of the original tweet and by others who jumped on board and wrote their own endorsements. That’s a powerful adrenaline rush when everything’s working. It’s a source of added mortification when it’s not. Nobody wants to embarrass their social network.
More? Yes, there are a few more steps we’re rethinking in the wake of this debacle. But we believe we’re in a good place now and hope to have delivered a Website that you can count on being available more often than not.
That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—that’s from the Polyanna part of me.