March 14, 2019

Facebook's Global Outage: a lesson on diversifying

This morning, as I was well into my commute to work, I opened up Instagram to send out a usual morning post for one of my clients and lo and behold I was met with an error message. Being used to technology constantly failing me, I figured it was an isolated incident and I would try to post again using my laptop when I got into work. Same error message.

Panic-stricken and horrified, I did a quick Google search of the word “Instagram”. I was met with article after article on the global outagethat Facebook and many of it’s related apps (Instagram and Whatsapp, just to name a few) were currently experiencing. I felt a sense of both relief and anxiety. Relief that I had a good excuse for not fulfilling my sacred social media duties. Anxiety at the fact that this could mean the beginning of the end of the social media era.     

 My mind went into overdrive and started spewing up hypotheticals; “what if they can’t get Instagram and Facebook back up and running?”, “what would happen to all my social-media-based gigs?”, “am I going to lose my job?”, “how am I going to feed my cats?”. Safe to say, I was spiralling.

Once the metaphorical dust settled in my mind and I was able to think clearly again (after a much needed cup of coffee), I decided to see this as not a nuisance, but an opportunity. As the push I needed to diversify my skill set. Yes, a lot of what I do for a living is dependent on social media apps (ah to be a working millennial), but I have other skills that I can use to my advantage should the internet apocalypse ever occur. I can write, I can communicate, and if all else fails, I can cook (the world will always need cooks, right?).

That’s the lesson that a lot of brands (and people) should take away from the Facebook family’s global outage. It’s not about having a great presence or being an incredibly active superstar on one or two platforms. It’s about diversifying where your brand communicates. While we may be under the false impression that we are in full control of how we use social media, the fact of the matter is that we are all at the mercy of these platforms. If they decided to one day pull the plug, there is quite literally nothing we could do about it (I mean, have you ever tried to get in touch with Facebook’s customer service? Exactly.)  

So, by all means,diversify your communication strategy. Try out online platforms that don’t get as much attention from marketers. Try going back to analog and communicate with your audience in real life, whether that’s through outdoor ads or direct mail marketing. There is a wide array of benefits to diversifying your communication and marketing approach; you generate higher rates of engagement, you can address your audience at different stages of your sales funnel, and you can get your message to the right people at the right times. But out of all these benefits, one stands clear amongst the rest, you get to be in full control of when and where you communicate with your audience.

The moral of the story: don’t put all your eggs (or media spend) into one basket. Because you’ll never know when that basket might spontaneously combust.  

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