The October 4th Facebook outage was the biggest of its kind to date. Lasting 6 hours and resulting in a $79 million loss in ad revenue, it unfortunately probably won’t be the last. The inter-platform outage affected Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp, wiping out the primary form of communication for at least 2 billion people globally. One thing it proved was that most online advertisers are painfully unprepared for social media outages.
During the event, advertising and marketing across these sites halted, as well as much of marketers’ communication between colleagues and clients. This has called into question the stalwart stability of paid social advertising on Facebook.
So, where should digital marketers go from here?
Divide and Conquer
It’s clear that an omnichannel approach is needed going forward.
During the outage, there was a natural migration to other, non-Facebook platforms. Twitter alone experienced a 50% surge in search traffic on Google in the first 25 mins of the outage.
Outages aside, on the day to day, consumers don’t rely on a single app or platform for consumption and communication. Neither should marketers. Think about it this way – in the non-digital world, you wouldn’t place all your billboards on one road, so don’t place all your marketing eggs in the Facebook basket.
Automated tools will be essential to make this a reality. Budget planning, audience definition, creative, bid management and campaign measurements across platforms need to be handled in one concise place. This would allow spend to seamlessly move across to other platforms when one is down, and back when issues are resolved. All we can do is watch and wait for someone to bring this to fruition…
Message in a Bottle
Well, not quite, but it is the good old fashioned mailing list’s time to shine.
While SMS and email may not seem like the most future-forward approach, they do have the advantage of being independent from other platforms. This makes them more reliable as an additional forum for relationship building, customer service and ads all in one.
But don’t just treat them as a backup, they’re an important part of digital marketing strategy in the good times and the bad.
There’s no excuse not to have your PPC Google ads strategy sorted, especially when Paid Social is showing its unreliable side. In a social media outage, people want to know what the hell is going on. Hence, they will be Googling. Some statistics stated a traffic spike as significant as 70% on the open web throughout the outage event.
Users may even take the social detox time as an opportunity to indulge in a bit of online retail therapy, so make sure your ads are the ones they see.
Adapt to Survive
Having a strategy is essential for juggling multiple marketing tasks, but don’t let it restrict your quick-thinking in a crisis. Always have a backup plan for a social outage situation.
The most important thing is to keep the consumer in the loop, don’t let them forget that you exist. Shift platforms to keep up communication, send out email updates reminding them that the brand is operating as normal outside of the affected platform, and throw out the odd situational meme to contribute to the cultural conversation!
Above all, embrace the situation. However hard it may be for us marketers to admit, we can’t always be in control!