Twitter is one of the world's biggest social networks, so when that site and its mobile apps told consumers that "Something is technically wrong," word spread quickly – which is pretty ironic considering that the tool for disseminating information around the world was unavailable to as many as 300 million people for hours.
When Twitter crashed, the company took to Tumblr to explain the problems. The social site and app developer said that an alteration made to internal code was to blame. The result of the glitch affected both mobile users and Web surfers, preventing them from accessing tweets and other Twitter-hosted content for at least six hours in the morning on Jan. 19, 2016.
But, that downtime might have been the least of Twitter's worries. The Independent reported that there have been widespread issues occurring in the days preceding Tuesday's service disruption. It seems as though Twitter experienced a "major outage" 19 hours before the big crash.
"An error in internal code took Twitter out for six hours."
It’s safe to assume that when trying to solve a problem, another one appeared, leaving end users to face the "fail whale." Some sources suggested that the crash was the result of a new app update that released in the U.K. and brought some additional features to the social platform. On the other hand, The New York Times reported that the downtime could stem from experimentation with other capabilities.
Regardless of what Twitter and its developers and testers were up to when the site and app crashed, it seems that they temporarily lost sight of the importance of mobile app testing and monitoring. As a result, an error in code took Twitter out, and consumers took to a variety of platforms to express their concerns and proclaim their frustrations.
The impact of a crash
When Twitter went down, mobile users made their voices heard on every other social media channel, and this is where marketing and brand need to pay attention.
The New York Times said that many took to Facebook to "playfully" complain, citing one Facebook user who referenced Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" when mentioning the Twitter crash. Once word spreads on Facebook, it's unlikely that consumers would even bother checking Twitter for themselves. The damage to the brand is hard to undue at that point.
It's probable that during this Twitter downtime, many people figured that other social websites were more suitable alternatives for their needs. Inc.'s John Brandon explained that Twitter has been failing to pull in new users over the past few years, and this recent technical problem will only support consumer sentiments. In other words, Twitter users sense a lack of commitment to continuous quality.
From stocks to app store reviews
Some individuals even sold their shares in the social media company. Yes, an app crash influenced the value of an organization on the stock market, and, according to Peter Bon, Twitter's stock dropped to historic lows.
Peter Bon (@PeterJBon) January 19, 2016
And lastly, but perhaps most importantly for both the technical and marketing sides of a business: When Twitter app users discovered the Twitter outage, they took to app stores to vent frustrations. On Google Play, some of the most recent critiques of the app were harsh, to say the least. Many consumers simply gave Twitter a single-star app score.
Other Twitter app users didn't understand that the outage wasn't specifically the app's fault, but rather a bigger-picture type incident. These individuals could abandon the social platform and therefore the entire brand if they don't see performance improvements.
A lesson learned
Developers and testers should heed cases such as Twitter's. Mobile app testing is a requirement nowadays. Twitter will surely carry on, but its crash is another reminder that brands must provide continuous quality by performing tests every time a new feature or simple update is released.