Thursday, August 06, 2009

What nonprofits can learn from the recent outages on Twitter, Facebook

Nonprofits (and any organization) can learn a lot from the recent outage on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket

Much like the websites of Facebook and Twitter being a potential single source of failure, is your organization at risk?

Some questions to consider:
  • How diversified is your funding stream?
  • If a key member of your board, staff, etc fell ill or left, would the organization still survive?
  • How diversified is your social media strategy?

2. Foster innovation of your service(s)

Despite the news that Twitter and Facebook were down, I experienced no problems getting information through TweetDeck (where I manage both my FB status updates and Twitter messages). Had these sites only relied on their website as the only way for people like me to access their services, I would have been out of luck. By opening themselves up to the innovation of others, my service was uninterrupted.

Some questions to consider:
  • Does your organization create opportunities for people to build upon the experiences you offer -- perhaps in a manner you did not anticipate or plan?
  • How do you encourage people to engage with your experiences in a way that is meaningful for them?
3. Have contingency plans

I don't know the details of what Twitter and Facebook are doing/have done in light of the recent outages but I think it is safe to assume they have mechanisms in place to deal with this in terms of restoring service, communication, etc.

Some questions to consider:
  • What is the plan for your organization?
  • How up to date is your plan?
  • Do the people that need to know/execute said plan aware of it? Or does it sit on some shelf or in some folder on your computer?
4. No matter what, learn from your mistakes

If by chance none of the lessons mentioned previously have been applied, it's not the end of the world. Each challenge that confronts us is an opportunity for improvement and learning.