If You Can’t Bite The Hand, Kiss It: How Buffer Handled Their Recent Hack

By October 27, 2013Editorial

buffer hackThe online service ‘Buffer’ has recently suffered a hack. Rather than go silent or ignore the issue, the company have instead unwittingly given a masterclass in how to handle such an inconvenience.

For those of you who have never heard of Buffer, it is an online service which allows you to schedule Tweets, posts and updates across a range of social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.

You might be wondering what I mean exactly by ‘schedule’ or why you’d want to do such a thing; but if you run a business or have fans and followers spread over the globe (and therefore different time-zones), then having such an ability can not only save you time, but also keep you connected whilst your competition is quite literally sleeping.

This article isn’t meant to be an introduction to Buffer; for that, you can check out a far better piece here. This article is about a recent hacking that Buffer suffered at the hands of some, as yet, unidentified miscreants who managed to insert their own spammy Tweets and Facebook updates into the Buffer streams of legitimate users.

The first I heard about this was when I received an email from the CEO of Buffer, Joel Gascoigne, saying that “Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on”. Now, Buffer isn’t the first online service ever to have been hacked, but what they’ve done remarkably well is to keep their users in the loop. Rather than batten down the hatches and go silent, they’ve emailed everyone; kept their Facebook and Twitter updated with what’s occurring; been totally open and transparent and even written a blog article which is also being updated regularly.

In short, Joel and his team have given their users a side-line view of how to handle a crisis – and all credit to them for doing so. Other companies, faced with similar situations in the past, allowed things to get to a point where their users flooded social media channels with requests for information and their obvious disdain at the lack of it. Not so Buffer; they got in there first and told everybody what they needed to know.

There’s a great scene towards the end of the film ‘Scent of A Woman’,staring Al Pacino, where Pacino’s character says “When the [you know what] hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay…” On this occasion, the folks at Buffer chose to stay and it has definitely gone in their favour. It just goes to show that how you handle the rough times can often say more about your attitude and abilities than how you cruise through the good times. If you take a look at the Buffer Facebook page or Twitter feed, there are many messages of support there from their users.

No matter what business or industry you’re in, I think we could all take a leaf out of Buffer’s book the next time things don’t go exactly to plan with a client, customer or business associate. I for one tip my hat to Buffer and wish that other companies behaved a bit more like them when it mattered.

Nice work Buffer.