Lately, there have been outages for two large sites: Amazon and Facebook. Working for a company that monitors such things made me able to confirm the nature of the outages.  But how I became aware of them has had me thinking in new ways for the last few weeks.
I became aware of both of these outages through a combination of FriendFeed and Twitter within minutes of them starting. This information spread quickly. And, due to the nature of these new technologies, people were able to comment on the outages, and theorize about the cause of the problems these large online firms faced.
The question you are likely asking is “So what?”. Well, as anyone who has been paying attention for the last four years should know, while you cannot completely control the conversation, you can participate in it and help prevent the spread of negative or incorrect theories about what is happening on your site.
The technologies that people who come to your site use to comment when something goes wrong can be used to interact with the customers. The classic example of this is Zappos. If you look on Twitter, you will find a number of members of that organization who are using the service to interact with customers on a human level. And if you have a problem or question, you stand an excellent chance of getting a response from the CEO if you ask a question.
So, if your site experiences an issue or problem, how do you interact with customers? Or do you just hope they don’t notice?