I had a completely different blog post planned for this week. I WAS writing about the biggest changes to Instagram since its beginning, to celebrate its 11th anniversary this week. But Facebook had other plans.
In the early afternoon of October 4, 2021, not only did Facebook “break”, but so did Instagram and WhatsApp!
hello literally everyone
— Twitter (@Twitter) October 4, 2021
Of course, the connected world flocked to Twitter. First to check and see if Facebook and/or Instagram were actually down, or just not working for themselves. Then we stayed for the brand interactions and news. Netflix had to get in on the fun with a reference to their biggest show ever, Squid Game.
When Instagram & Facebook are down. pic.twitter.com/mVFlVOOCOC
— Netflix (@netflix) October 4, 2021
Why small business needs to prepare for the next #FacebookDown
Unless you’re actually hoping for the social networking behemoth to disappear, you’re probably somewhat dependant on the Facebook ecosystem for your marketing. But it’s not safe to leave your presence 100% in the hands of Instagram and Facebook products. If we learned nothing else from a multiple hours outage in October, it’s that you need to have other ways to market your business and talk to your customers.
Even if you’re ok with an outage of a few hours on your favourite social network, how would you feel if your Business Page was deleted without warning? This isn’t simply hyperbole. During the last year I’ve personally talked to at least three small businesses who lost their Facebook or Instagram profiles due to hacking. And most small businesses do not have the connections to get their Pages back.
If you were to lose access to your Facebook Page or Instagram profile do you have another way to talk to your audience? You should.
How to prepare for the next #FacebookDown
While Facebook and Instagram were down, how did you talk to your customers? I received several emails and saw a flurry of activity on Twitter and TikTok. I didn’t check in on LinkedIn, but I suspect it got quite busy as well. Here are a few tips to protect your social media marketing activities.
Diversify your social media marketing
If the thought of the next great outage scares you, maybe it’s time to look at integrating a new social network? LinkedIn is a great option for small businesses and startups. TikTok is a great venue for creativity and is the up-and-coming solution for all your short-form videos. Whether you choose the ol’ faithful Twitter or you decide to add something new to your marketing mix, it’s really crucial to build an audience on a variety of platforms. And with most platforms using similar formats it’s also fairly easy to repurpose content across all your profile.
Optimize your website for search
Where are people going to go if Facebook and Instagram are down and they need to talk to you? If they don’t know your website address already, they’re going to head to Google to find you. Time for a quick website audit:
- Can you be found by searching your common business name? Believe it or not, I’ve found some businesses that are not! Learn how to optimize your site for search. SEO basics are incredibly powerful and easy to DIY.
- Once people get to you, is your phone number, email address and street address easily found?
- Is your website easy to use on a cell phone? Do people have to pinch & zoom to see what they need? If they do, it’s past time for an upgrade to a responsive web design.
- If you’re a restaurant is your menu available to see without downloading a PDF?
- If you sell products, is there a catalogue available for browsing and/or online shopping?
- Are you doing regular backups of your entire site that are stored somewhere other than your website host? (In case that hosting company disappears or has problems.)
Your website should be the center of your digital marketing strategy. Social media are simply the highways that bring traffic to the city center.
Start using email
Email is not dead. No matter what type of business you have, collect email addresses and send regular emails to your clients. You want to be in their inboxes long before you NEED to be. Think about it… you’re used to posting your products on Facebook and Instagram and they are suddenly not available to you… where do you go? If you’ve built that email list and used it wisely, you’ll have an engaged audience waiting to hear from you.
Lessons Learned from the Facebook Outage
Listen, I’m not suggesting you leave Facebook or Instagram and completely switch over to another network. I’m not even suggesting you use the networks less often. I am suggesting you don’t build your business on a foundation of sand, which could blow away at any time. The key to a stable social media presence is diversity and using it to bring traffic to a channel you do own and control: your website.