Last month (October 4, 2021), the Facebook digital channels went down for several hours. [Cue up Star Wars, Episode 4: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."―Obi-Wan Kenobi, sensing the destruction of Alderaan.] The effect was felt across the globe, especially by small businesses that depend on the Facebook apps for marketing and sales.
While outages as long as the one on October 4 are quite rare, shorter outages can occur periodically and can have an effect on businesses. Thus, it is important to have a plan when social media outages occur. Here are some steps you can take when the next outage occurs:
- Is the platform really down or is it just you? This is the basic first step when experiencing problems with a channel. Don’t assume the channel is out until you first check out your local situation. Is there a problem with your internet connectivity? Is there a system problem? If the problem does not seem to be on your end, check a site such as isitdown.us or downforeveryoneorjustme.com to confirm a large platform outage.
- Use other channels for communication. Once you’ve confirmed a channel is down, move your conversations to other channels. In the case of the Oct. 4 Facebook outage, many brands switched their focus to Twitter to maintain engagement with their audiences.
- Make lemonade out of that lemon. Use the opportunity to engage with your audience. Examples include:
- Posting a poll or meme about what people are doing in the absence of the downed channel.
- Using email or blog to distribute urgent messages.
- Evaluate your social channel menu. Does this outage point to a reset of your social media strategy?
- Monitor your social ad/campaign strategies. If a channel goes down, taking your campaign with it, assess your ad spend during the outage. Try to pause the campaign if you can and get a screen grab of your attempt to pause the campaign. If you cannot pause it, the screen grab can help you get a credit from Facebook in the case of their internal error. Since such outages rarely last very long, it’s probably not worth your while to adjust your spend to other channels without any idea of how long the outage will last, unless it’s a short-term, high-volume campaign.
- Keep communication going on other channels. Make sure your audience knows you are still up and running, even if the social platform is not.
- Keep key stakeholders in the loop. Show that your organization is reliable in all situations.
- Plan for the worst. As stated earlier, most social media outages are short-lived. But you should prepare a plan for longer outages.
Once the outage is over, assess your ad campaigns.
- Are they back online? Are they running correctly? If not, have a backup plan with content you’ve used previously that has worked well.
- Don’t try to launch a brand-new campaign immediately after an outage until you’re sure everything is back working properly.
- Look for any outstanding messages that may have been sent just as the outage occurred or came from a location where there was no disruption and respond as quickly as possible.