If you’re one of Stephen Fry’s many Twitter followers, you may remember his Valentine’s Day “marriage proposal” tweet on the behalf of the lucky winner of an online charity auction. This auction was held by one of our “Enterprise” charity clients, Giving Lots. Giving Lots enables a wide variety of charities and non-profits to use their auction website to raise funds. This particular lot was part of their “Kissing for Conservation” Valentine’s Day campaign for Elephant Family, offering bidders the opportunity to win kisses and other romantic gestures from a number of celebrities.
Stephen generously offered to publicise the auction via his Twitter account, directing his followers to the Giving Lots site. As you may know,Stephen Fry has a vast Twitter following, with nearly 5.5 million followers – an average of 3,000 – 500,000 people an hour will attempt to visit any website tweeted by Stephen. This huge popularity means websites need to be especially well-prepared when Stephen links to their URL. As his organisation warned us, sites need to be capable of coping with a minimum of 1200 requests per second.
Determined that the site should not fail, we made some special adjustments:
- We set the site up so it was load balanced on our cluster - to ensure reliability and efficiency
- We enabled page caching on all the bidding pages
- We used internal server caching to make sure dramatic surges in bidding would cause no problems
Thanks to this technical tweaking, the tweet was an excellent success. Although at its peak we were serving up to 50 pages per second, neither Giving Lots nor any of our other clients experienced the slightest interruption. And most importantly, the wonderful publicity surrounding the auction led to thousands of pounds being raised for Elephant Family.