What You Can Learn from Yesterday’s Facebook and Instagram Outage

If you had trouble accessing your Facebook or Instagram account yesterday afternoon, you weren’t alone. The panic was real for billions of users worldwide, including business accounts.

The outage started around noon Eastern time and lasted well into the evening hours. Most people experienced around five hours of outage, which is the longest Facebook and Instagram outage to date. Many WhatsApp users were affected as well.

If you were online, it seemed as if everyone was having a bad day. Everyone, except loyal Twitter users, was feeling the digital equivalent of Fyre Festival. They were living their best lives while laughing at panicked Facebook and Instagram users who came crawling to Twitter to find out why their beloved social media platforms were down.

According to various online sources, the outage was the result of an accidental traffic jam caused by a European Internet company that collided with Facebook and other websites.

While it was not malicious in nature, this jam and outage caused panic around the world. People were not able to communicate with family and friends. Businesses were not able to access their online ads or publish promotional content. Everything came to a halt.

How the Outage Affected Businesses

There are more than 60 million business with Facebook Pages. They were affected by the outage as well. So were Facebook Ads accounts.

Imagine, if your business had a super important product launch or sales promotion that was scheduled to be announced on your Facebook Page yesterday. You were going to boost it by running Facebook ads. It was supposed to be a huge day for your brand.

And then, the unthinkable happened. Facebook went down right before your scheduled posts and ads were to go live. Almost everything you spent weeks planning went down the drain.

This probably was the reality for many businesses around the world. Their hearts and bank accounts were hurt. They relied too much on Facebook and Instagram, and the unthinkable happened. Both went down for hours on one of the busiest social media days of the week.

While outages like this one seem unthinkable, yesterday’s events are strong reminders that such things can and do happen. More importantly, they are perfect reminders for businesses to plan for such events, and not to solely rely on social media to market products and services.

Lessons Learned

Don’t use social media as a substitute for a business website

We often meet business owners who believe that a Facebook Page or an Instagram account is as good as having a business website. This is actually one of the top reasons business owners don’t think they need a website.

The easy access to social media has lulled them into believing that they simply don’t need a website. But this is a very risky position to be in. You are essentially at the mercy of various social media platforms. They set all the rules and make decisions that affect your business. Even if you have that perfect branded hashtag, you have no say.

If your Facebook business Page or Instagram account is the foundation of your online presence, you were panicking hard yesterday. Your business was down for at least five hours. There was no one to call to give you answers. You had to play the waiting game, and hope that Facebook would fix the problem.

The outage would have had a lesser effect on your business if you had your own website and customers can reach you there. They can buy products and services directly from your website, even when Facebook and Instagram are down. That makes a huge difference.

Own your customer list

It’s a huge accomplishment when a business gains thousands of social media followers. A lot of those followers are loyal customers, which is even more amazing.

To take this huge accomplishment to the next level, you should build a list of loyal customers outside of your social media accounts.

You can use email marketing service providers, like MailChimp, Constant Contact or Infusionsoft, to collect customers’ contact information and build a valuable mailing list. This is a list that you own and have access to at your discretion.

It’s much different than your social media followers. You do not have to pay a social media platform to show promotional material to your email list subscribers. You communicate with them directly via email, on your own terms.

If Facebook or Instagram experiences an outage, you can still send promotional offers to your email list subscribers and direct them to go to your website to make a purchase. That’s a way better position to be in than if you had to solely rely on Facebook or Instagram to reach your customers.

Take a multipronged approach to marketing

As they say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify.

This applies to marketing as well. You should never rely on one channel or platform for all of your marketing efforts. Overreliance on social media can ruin the most successful of marketing campaigns.

Instead, consider using different channels for your marketing efforts. For example, if you are launching a new product, plan to announce it via email, social media, and on your blog. That way, you will reach more people and you will not heavily rely on one channel.

If something goes wrong with your product announcement on Facebook, all won’t be lost. You’ll still have your email announcement and blog post.

Don’t trust the digital marketing gurus who tell you to stick with a single channel that you have no control over. Diversifying your marketing efforts gives you more control over your business’ destiny.

How Did the Facebook and Instagram Outage Affect Your Business?

We’d love to hear how you experienced and survived yesterday’s Facebook and Instagram outage. Did it affect your day-to-day operations? Did you learn anything from it? Will you do anything differently as a result? Let us know in the comments below.

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