Klout (@klout), the online standard for influence and scoring site suffered a severe system error that caused users social media profile scores to drop in value yesterday. I noticed a few people questioning their scores on Facebook so I went to my Klout page and noticed that my score dropped by 50%. I was not really bothered by the drop but more intrugued since it appeared to be happending to several users.

Between 8:30 and 12 noon I watched how Klout dealt with the situation. They did a great job of informing their users that there was an error and that they were sorry for the problem. They quickly sent tweets out informing their users that there was a glitch and they had not changed their algorithym as many people speculated on Twitter. By noon, Klout CEO Joe Fernandez had written a post explaining the problem and offering an sincere apology. Looking at the comments people were forgiving and appreciated the company explaining the problem and offering an apology.

Klout Twitter messages about scoring problem

With data being the currency of the social web, it’s vital that you have a crisis communication plan in place to deal with unplanned data loss or corruption. All systems can fail at any given time no matter how much we plan. Humans and machines make mistakes and often do. We are a forgiving culture as long as we know someone is listening and responding.

Klout did several things right. First it used Twitter as a customer support channel by addressing some of the first people asking why their scores had dropped. Secondly they acknowledged the error and informed users that they were working on the problem. Within a few hours it was fixed and they issued a nice post explaining the issue in more detail and apologizing for any problems it may have caused.

Sometimes when we have a crisis we can get unfocused fast. The first reaction is to find and fix the problem. But it’s equally important to have a crisis communication plan in place and enacted at the same time. Those responsible for the social media and outbound communication channels need to have a plan in place to know how to adquately react to consumer and customer questions. Chain of command needs to be properly identified and contingency plans in place in case spokespersons are travelling, on vacation or unavialable.

Let’s face it in today’s instant gratification and social media world you are being judged on how well you react, communicate and respond in a very short period of time. Klout’s example happened in less than 4 hours! Klout’s glitch has no life or death implications. But for a company that relies on accuracy and awareness of their service it’s important for them to have a reliable scoring system that does not frequently crash!

Do you have a crisis communicatoin plan for your data?

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.