Why multiple channels of communication are here to stay… and why it’s a good thing

By Matt Cornock

A short post about the value of mulitple communication channels. Normally, duplication of information is a bad thing and poor use of multiple communication channels sometimes does that. If you have well defined audiences for each channel however, that’s not a problem. But, this post isn’t about that, it’s about how useful they are when things go wrong!

Up-site-down

Excusing the dreadful pun, sometimes even the most robust systems encounter the unexpected downtime. One such example is the presence of a digger near an organisation’s central IT servers and the intersection of that digger with the power and data cables going from those central IT servers. How do you get the message to everyone in the organisation that something is up (which, to be fair they’ll be aware of), and more importantly whether it will be solved soon (or should they go how and have a nice cup of tea)?

The answer is simple. 

With the availability of mobile, battery-powered internet connectivity, and third-party communication channels such as Twitter, news can spread faster than the rumours.

Channels maintain face

Channels like Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and even text message can quickly spread a positive message in an otherwise negative situation. If a site’s main website is down, chances are that its Facebook and Twitter presence will be up and running, and accessible. This isn’t of course a replacement, nor should it be as each channel has its own purpose, its own audience and its own style of communication. However, these ‘back-ups’ are free and essential to even small businesses who are looking to add that personal touch to explain a full blown 404 on the site home page.

“Sorry folks, Bob’s pet mouse has gnawed its way through the mains. We’ll keep you up to date here”

“Mouse received CPR and will recover, but our servers have fried themselves. Our IT whizz says we’ll be back online in an hour though.”

For me… I’d much prefer that than no information at all.

Wouldn’t it be nice

I though I’d round this off with a suggestion. Website owners have a few settings using Google Webmaster Tools. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could set Google to switch to an alternative system (e.g. Twitter) if a user clicks on the main site whilst it is down? E.g. main site produces a 404, Google instead sends the user to a Twitter feed specified by the website owner. Kinda useful, no?

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