What Can We Learn From the Facebook Outage?

Oct 18, 2021 | From Joe, Marketing Strategy, Social Media

Hello Country Fried Friends,

This is not the introduction I originally wrote for this newsletter. Something major happened in the world of digital marketing so we preempted our original content and write about what happened regarding Facebook.

On Monday, October 4th, 2021 Facebook, Instagram, and other Facebook-owned social media channels disappeared from the Internet for an entire day. With no warning and, most notably, little commentary from Facebook itself – poof, those channels simply disappeared. The only thing Facebook said about it was:

How about that for an understated statement of impact, “some people”. Actually, it impacted everyone, including their own employees.

There was no shortage of commentary about the Facebook/Instagram outage in the media. While we can debate about the integrity of Facebook as a company, its alleged monopolization of social media channels, its declining audience, and its privacy policies – I feel like there’s little debate about two things important to most of you reading this newsletter.

  1. It’s important that you engage in marketing across a spectrum of communications channels. Your organization should NOT rely on a single method to get the word out. Companies that relied solely on Facebook lost millions of dollars the day of the outage, including Facebook itself. Have a read of this article.
  2. You should encourage your customers to engage with you on a variety of communications channels and keep them all up-to-date.
So the first point is somewhat obvious and it’s a variation of the old adage, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

Our approach to marketing is called the “Digital Marketing Roadmap.” Check out where we’ve previously written about it and we’ve created got a nice “roadmap” graphic to illustrate the concept.

Simply stated, first you develop your brand, and set up a first-class website (which is something you totally control) and use that as a marketing “home base”. Extend the reach of your brand with other channels like a search engine, social media, e-mail newsletters, and even print/traditional media. Make sure you’re putting out a consistent message across all channels. One of my pet peeves as a consumer is when a retail business displays one set of business hours on its website and a different set of business hours on social media. Which one is correct?  Don’t leave your customer guessing.

The second point about engaging with customers across different channels is a little more difficult to pull off, but it’s very important.  Last year when COVID-19 shut down many businesses, people stayed home. Businesses that relied on signage and drive-by traffic suffered the most.

Businesses that already had well-established digital marketing were able to pivot online and stay in touch with their customers about important news; including operating hours. 

It is NEVER a good idea to totally shut off online marketing, even in the most austere times.  Once you turn the lights off online, it’s very hard to get them turned back on – you fall off the search engine listings and customers begin to wonder about your existence. People go online even more during times of uncertainty!

There’s also a corollary idea related to having different marketing channels. Sometimes I’ll hear a business say that they’re going to spend all of their marketing dollars on a single channel or campaign because “it works” and there’s no need to engage in digital marketing like social media. That’s fine as long as it works, but what happens if it stops working? Some of you, like me, are old enough to remember phone book advertising. Companies that didn’t pivot to online directories and websites are still suffering from the demise of that seemingly “too big to fail” phone book advertising industry.

Effective marketing requires a presence in multiple channels, even if you choose to emphasize some channels over others.

During “normal times” customers will naturally gravitate towards certain ways of finding information and communicating with your business. Normally this includes website, business listings, LinkedIn, traditional media, advertising, and (yes) even Facebook. It’s important to have a presence in each of the different channels. If there is a problem with one of the channels, customers should know to find you somewhere else.  For example: if your website goes down, does your customer know to find you on social media? You can and should encourage your customers to engage with you wherever you have a presence.

Please don’t rely on one marketing channel, no matter how big and strong it appears today.  Tomorrow your channel could be gone. If you need assistance making sense of what you might need in digital marketing – let us know. We’re Country Fried Creative and we care about you, your businesses, and our community.



– Joe