Last week I shared an article that Belle Beth Cooper wrote for Fast Company about subconscious mistakes we make every day. (I want to take this opportunity to again recommend that article to anyone that missed it.)
At the end of the article Cooper was identified as a content crafter at Buffer, which Fast Company described as "a smarter way to share on Twitter and Facebook.” I hadn't heard of Buffer, but I thought the article she wrote was pretty impressive and am always looking for smarter ways of doing things, so I perused Buffer's site. My first impression was that it seemed like a viable alternative to what I was currently using to share content.
I didn’t have any qualms with what I was currently using, but I like trying new things and really didn't have anything to lose giving Buffer a shot. I linked my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ accounts and the first thing I shared across all those networks was Cooper’s article.
I installed the Chrome browser extension and Buffer for mobile devices. Within a few days, I was really becoming a fan. It’s simple and smart.
And then, days after signing up, Buffer was hacked.
My content failed to post, other Buffer users were spewing out weight loss spam, and my Twitter account was no longer synced with my Buffer account.
Within a week of signing up for a new tech toy, it got hacked. Not the best of first impressions.
There are a number of ways a company in Buffer’s position can respond to a disaster that is not just embarrassing for itself, but embarrassing for many of its users, too. Many of them just plain bad.
Buffer rose to the occasion though. And because of how they handled this incident, I am not only still using it, I probably will for quite some time and have gained a great deal of respect for leadership there.
Transparency and Communication
In every business I have been able to influence, as a leader or an investor, some iteration of “transparency” and “open and honest communication” has been a staple in the culture or core values. They are behaviors I value a great deal, both in my business and personal life.
On Saturday, within two hours of being hacked, Buffer’s founder, Joel Gascoigne, took to the company’s blog. The initial post was candid, genuine, and apologetic to users. It was written without a trace of avoiding responsibility and wasn't littered with legalese. It was straightforward and useful.
Buffer maintained transparency and went on to update users throughout the day Saturday and into Sunday with the latest on progress. They updated users on the status of accounts, how to get accounts back online, and how widespread the occurrence was. They communicated what they knew and what they didn't about being hacked.
It’s not just that Buffer was open and honest about being hacked that impressed me. It was the degree of sincerity and focus on the satisfaction of its users that won me over. And judging based on the rest of their blog, on issues ranging from revenue to culture, this is simply how they do business.
It will take some more time to develop a fully informed opinion on Buffer as a platform for sharing content, but so far, I have no complaints. Analytics are simple and useful. Posts are easy to share from virtually anywhere. Thus far, it appears to be relatively smart, posting content on different platforms at effective times. And it is both easier to navigate and more aesthetically pleasing than what I was using. There are a few very small things I like better than what I was using. For instance, when I include "@USERNAME" in content for Twitter, it is cleaned up for posts on other social networks.
More to come as I continue using it.
The point, tough, is that because they proved to be a company that cares about users, culture, and communication, I’ll still be using it.
So, cheers, Buffer, on your handling of the issues this past weekend.