…and the morning after

Many of you have read my Dear John letter to Twitter of just two days ago, and let me start off by offering secure thanks and appreciation for all of your comments, all of the suggestions, direct messages and showing of love and support. It was by far the most read blog post I’ve ever written, and the fact that you found my words of interest, entertaining and insightful really means a lot to me. It was my pleasure to share that with you, and hope that you find future missives to be interesting.

So, I’m back on Twitter, which should serve as no real surprise to anyone. My heart is probably is always going to be where the people I love are, and since the fact majority of them are on Twitter (critical mass is a hard argument to deflect).

But, the most invigorating thing about this, was for the first real time, Twitter did active Crisis Management. From the moment the issue was discovered, the communication plan was different. Between @twitter, which had been far more active that I’ve ever seen it. Repeated updates on the Twitter Status blog, active attempts by @ev, @biz, and @jack to keep followers abreast, and the fact that the entire Twitter team went above and beyond to diagnose and fix the problem, speaks volumes about the importance of the follower loss, and the dedication to the platform and it’s continued growth. It’s as if they came up against the end game, and said, no way, and everyone was all in it together. This Twitter system failure had the aire of “no, if we don’t fix this, it’s really over”. The immediacy was clear. And this was what was different. Faced with the very real possibility of complete and total EPIC FAIL, the team snapped into action, and did the best they good to weather the storm.

Allow me to draw a parallel from personal experience. Flash back for a moment to the winter of 2007, most specifically February 14, and during notably what was dubbed the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”, when, all hell broke loose for a little airline called JetBlue Airways. You may have heard about it. The upfront story through the media was the volume of stranded passengers, some honeymooners, some trying to get to funerals, reunions, vacations, you name it. And you know, it was a great story to tell, because, in fact, these too were people who were wronged by those who should have been “right”. JetBlue just didn’t do this sort of thing. The failure and perfect storm of issues that happened are not deniable. (and neither were the reasons behind some of them, a great story for another time) But, the story that was never told, was that of the many, many efforts that went on behind the scenes at JetBlue corporate (most of the entire corporate office worked the back areas of JFK for 24 or even 48 hours straight), and the Corporate Communications and Marketing teams who immediately realized the value in putting ourselves in front of the problem, trying our best their accept the blame, and as a result save the airline. And this video was born (along with my deeper obsession with social media):

That night, as Morgan Johnston spent until 2am to get YouTube to accept the video (I think on the seventh attempt it took) and I tried to figure out how to spread the word, figure out if we were violating any sort of YouTube terms of service, and put it out there, really not knowing what would happen. This was doing our part to save the airline. David was front and center, and spoke for all of us trying to make things right. And, in my very humble opinion, it worked. Customers were largely forgiving, and while David stepped aside as CEO later that year, he had bigger plans in mind anyway 😉

The parallels of these experiences were clear – trying to fix the problem involved a lot of communication, a lot of experience, hard work, a great deal of luck, crazy amounts of passion, and hope the our customers would in fact forgive us. And the last part was the biggest variable. And when the first five lined up, for JetBlue, the last one, the most intangible fortunately, fell into place.

So, I think I’m going to ask Twitter to be my friend again, and hope that we can be closer than ever. Because I’m pulling for the majority to forgive, because, who knows what the future may hold?


  1. It is good to forgive but not forget when it comes to Twitter. A year from now we will all laugh and remember the days of massive fail whales and half the Twitterverse screaming about their follower numbers. If anything, regardless of the issues, Twitter is as string as ever. I have not seen that much serious user migration to other services…that speaks volumes.

    On another note – I will personally go down to your office and throw away any Mets memorabilia if you decide to permanently leave Twitter. 🙂

  2. I’m going to be Dear Johning twitter myself – as of this morning I discovered through “twitter support” that there are “follower” limitations that, once reached, cannot be breached.
    Once you hit that ceiling, you can’t even follow new people who follow you first.

    WTF? Then they need to shut off calacanis & scobelizer & laporte.
    And by doing so, they’d be effectively kneecapping the social media junkies.

  3. Good post. Unlike many others, I was confident Twitter would get its act together, it was just a matter of when. I really can’t bring myself to get all riled up about a platform that is free. Disappointed yes, but not mad. I did think your prior post hit the right tone. “Twitter, I love you but I don’t know how much longer I can stay in this abusive relationship.” Well, so far it appears Twitter has gone through to therapy it needs to stabilize our relationship. I’ll stay this time.

  4. Thanks for all of the comments so far!

    @Kieran – As soon as I get an actual “office”, you’ll be welcome to drop by 😉

    @aka_monty – I think that as much as people don’t want to admit it, Twitter is now running up against limits of performance and scalability that is forcing difficult decisions. I agree with you that the conversation should not be limited, and currently, a lot of people get an unfair slice of the database and activity, but what they are looking at is a fundamental limitation on their web application. They must have reached a ceiling that forces them to decided between keeping the application perform stably and to the expectations of most, or limiting the activity and growth of some. Not an easy choice, but also, not one that has really been faced since the days of Friendfeed (and they ultimately lost the battle for both growth and marketshare).

    @eldevlin – here’s hoping. We’ll see what the future holds. It seems like a core system rewrite, and soon is the only way to keep things stable and growing, and currently, they don’t seem to have the resources to do that.

  5. sighh.. the heady days of JetBlue’s social media infancy.

    February 14th was a hell of a day to start a new gig as part of the corp comm team (though it says quite a bit about the senior leadership that they went along with the idea to put the video up so easilly)

    Though seriously. You’d think after close to 10 years experience in video production and compression, I’d have a slightly easier time uploading a functional video to youTube. – particularly when you look at all the other kids doing it so easilly!

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