What Can We Learn From the Facebook Outage?

For nearly 6 hours, no one could access Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp. Here’s how you can shield your digital marketing activity from disaster, should this happen again.

So, what happened?

All of Facebook’s services, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook itself, went offline between 16:00 GMT and 22:00 on Monday evening. This was apparently caused by an ‘internal technical issue’, but the good news is that everything is back up and running.

In the meantime, almost every internet user migrated to rival platforms to get their social media fix, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had $6 billion wiped off his personal fortune. 

$6 billion. That’s $1 billion for every hour they were offline. 

But Facebook’s loss was Twitter’s gain, as the platform exploded with activity, so much so that even Twitter themselves were astonished:

#FacebookDown, #InstagramDown and other related hashtags were trending all evening. We’ve seen brilliant, tongue-in-cheek tweets from users and brands alike:

Innocent, who produced some hilarious content during the 1st lockdown, have been in their absolute element:

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Twitter is the perfect platform for reactive marketing.

Your tweets don’t have to be carefully curated to be successful. They just need to be current, engaging and (when the time is right) humorous.

What can we learn from this?

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Only having a presence on Facebook and Instagram is risky. This isn’t the first outage and it certainly won’t be the last.

We’re not saying you have to be active on EVERY major platform, but you should choose one or two that your brand could easily slot into.

Are you a B2B business? LinkedIn. Do you sell unique products or clothing? Pinterest. Do you promote music or live experiences? TikTok.

All of these platforms have their unique advantages. Although we’re clear advocates for producing unique content suited to each platform, we understand there are often tight deadlines to meet.

If you’re pressed for time, content from one platform can easily be adapted for another (e.g. Reels on TikTok, Facebook posts on LinkedIn, etc). Think of it as hedging your bets against the risk of platform downtime.

We also want to stress the importance of 1st-party data. Social media is an incredible digital marketing tool, but it’s not the only one. Email often gets overshadowed by more ‘modern’ marketing techniques.

Unfortunately, with social media you never really ‘own’ the data you collect from interactions, the platform does. When an outage occurs, there’s nothing you can do but hope it comes back online.

With email marketing, your mailing list data is, well, yours. Email has a 99.9% delivery rate and almost never falls victim to the ‘internal technical issues’ that plague social media companies.

It’s also effective: email doesn’t have to battle with the incessant noise of the feed. Visibility doesn’t rely on mysterious algorithms – it’s direct, and if produced correctly, impactful.

So next time Facebook or Instagram go down, don’t idly waiting for it to restart. As we saw with Twitter, users flock to other platforms.

Take advantage of these marketing channels, and hit audiences with eye-catching content at a time when they’re desperate to look at something, anything, to pass the time until everything is back online.