Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down today.

And I got about the same number of texts, tweets and calls before 8am to let me know of this issue as I would expect to receive if the world was about to end.

Because for many small business owners that rely on Facebook to run their business, it felt like it was.

Over the past couple of months alone in my home state of Victoria, Australia, we’ve been faced with a pandemic, extended lockdowns, a tornado and an earthquake. I’ve seen the memes on Facebook asking “what next?” Well it wasn’t the alien invasion we were all expecting. It was much worse…

Facebook went down!

Facebook crashed! So what should I do?

Well first things first, don’t panic. We’re all in the same boat. 

You can’t post to Instagram. Neither can your competitors. And even if you could, there would be nobody there to see those posts. 

You can’t respond to your customer’s WhatsApp messages. Don’t worry, your customer can’t send messages on WhatsApp. 

You can’t advertise on Facebook. Well that’s probably a good thing, because you don’t want to be paying to advertise on Facebook right now, as nobody is there to see your ads. 

But I understand that none of this will give you much comfort if your business relies HEAVILY on Facebook to achieve your goals, whether that be engagement, traffic or revenue. Facebook stops working and your numbers across the board drop – significantly!

This can cause a massive disruption to your business and bottom line, particularly if the day Facebook goes down happens to be during your online launch, major sale or some other significant event that you were expecting to leverage on Facebook.

Even more so if you run (and rely on the income from) Facebook Ads. We hear you. We run Facebook Ads for businesses and see firsthand the MASSIVE impact that NOT being able to advertise on their platform has on our clients that are spending thousands of dollars a day on the platform.  

So what do you do during these times?

Turn to email marketing

Hopefully you’ve been working on building your list for some time now. Well now is the time to capitalise on that. Your email list should be your warmest and most highly engaged audience and when Facebook goes down. This is your best path to communicating with your potential customers, so use it as a way to reduce any potential loss of income that may occur as a result of not being able to promote on Facebook. 

For example, if you were previously running retargeting ads on Facebook, then look at how you can do similar using an abandoned cart email sequence. Or if you already have those in place, consider running a targeted personalised email broadcast, using liquid email content if possible, allowing you to put the most appropriate products in front of those people who are most likely to purchase them. 

Or maybe it’s just a case of increasing your email frequency a little during this time, as chances are your customers will be spending more time in their inbox seeing as though they don’t have a newsfeed to scroll. 

Revisit your sales pipeline

You should have a sales pipeline in place for your business. If you don’t have one, then now is a great time to create one. Your sales pipeline should include the various stages of your sales cycle and a list of names of the people within each stage and their expected value as a customer, should they convert, along with any notes relating to the their progress within your sales pipeline. 

Now is the perfect time to revisit that pipeline and do some personalised outreach to those people who are close to converting to see if you can get them across the line. This could be a personalised 1:1 email or even (shock horror) a phone call. Conversations are the best path to cash, so it’s time to start looking at other channels to have those conversations on. 

Collaborate with others 

If you already have trusted partners or affiliates that have access to your potential customers on other channels, then now is a great time to lean into their networks and add value. This strategy involves having a bit of brand equity in the bank with these relationships. You won’t get a favourable response to your request if you’ve never helped them out in the past, but if your partnership and collaboration strategy involves regularly lifting up others, then you’re request for assistance is most likely to be welcomed with open arms, particularly if you have an affiliate arrangement in place, which would constitute a win/win for both parties. 

Diversify your paid platforms

If you run Facebook Ads and rely heavily on the platform for sales and have felt the pinch of an ad outage before, whether that be due to an expired credit card, account shutdown or Facebook wide outage, then you’ll definitely want to diversify your ad spend to minimise the impact of such events. 

We encourage most of our clients to run Google Ads in conjunction with Facebook Ads (and yes, we can manage both), because they work great hand-in-hand. We’re often asked which is better. The answer is neither. You shouldn’t be choosing between the two, instead you should be developing a strategy where they’re both effective for your business and help each other. 

Then when one of the platforms goes down, you can shift your ad spend accordingly to minimise the impact. However, trying to set up Google Ads when Facebook has already been down for a few hours is not the answer, as there is a lot of backend work that needs to happen before you can get your ads live. Chances are that by the time you have your Google Ads set up, Facebook will be back in action already. 

But if you’re investing heavily in Facebook Ads and aren’t doing Google Ads, then let this be a wakeup call that you should at least consider it. 

Extend your offer

If you were mid-launch or had a sale that was about to end when Facebook went AWOL, then consider extending the deadline for these offers to cover the period of outage (and potentially even a little bit more). You can even incorporate the reasoning behind this into your promotion, having a bit of fun with your audience around what would be a topical issue (once the platform came back online). You can use the downtime to put some creative copy and visuals together regarding this. 

If it was an advertised webinar or some other date specific event that couldn’t be promoted, then consider changing the date, promoting the replay or running the event again (if possible). I know this isn’t ideal, but often this is better than just putting up with the lacklustre results you achieved because your promotions were impeded by Facebook being down. 

Check your communication channels

Ensure you have other communication channels listed on your website for people to contact you. 

This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Contact Us form on your website – let this serve as a prompt to check that it actually works
  • Google My Business set up (and up-to-date) 
  • Turn on notification for platforms like Twitter, incase someone decides to use that platform to contact you because they can’t get access to your via their usual method. 

Join the conversations on other platforms

Q. Guess who loves it when Facebook goes down? 

A. Every other social platform. 

I love this Tweet by Twitter when they heard the news that Facebook was down.  

The truth is, that people rush to other platforms to talk about the fact that Facebook is down, when Facebook is down. So why not meet them where they’re at?

But it’s not just a case of switching platforms and promoting your stuff. That is unlikely to work. Instead, join in the conversations around the fact that the platform is down. This can help put your brand front of mind, particularly on platforms like Twitter, where 1:1 conversations are much easier than on Facebook. 

If you’re following your customers, suppliers, partners or other people of influence within your industry, then a Facebook outage is a great time to check your Twitter feed and see who is having conversations that you would like to participate in and engage with them there in a meaningful way, rather than making your first tweet in years to scream “buy my stuff”. 

If the content you were planning to post to Facebook or Instagram can be easily repurposed to LinkedIn, then consider that also.  

Create content

Ok, so you can’t post to Facebook, but you can create content for when the platform eventually returns, so focus your energy on what you can do instead of what you can’t. 

The platform will return, so be ready for when it does. 

Adjust your strategy

If you experience an extended Facebook outage for whatever reason and it impacts your business significantly, then that’s a massive warning sign that you need to adjust your strategy. Consider which of the above tips you aren’t currently doing and see how you can start making moves in the right direction so that if this should happen again, the impact to your business won’t be as significant. 

Now I know that a lot of people will be saying that it doesn’t make good business sense to rely too heavily on one platform. If you search back through my blog posts, I have written several times about how relying on just one platform is like “building your house on rented land”. But my views on this have changed a bit over the years. 

Thinking that we can’t rely on a platform is a little idealistic. The truth is that we rely on Facebook as one of the key tools to run our business in the same way that we rely on the internet, electricity, website hosts, email marketing platforms and the like. If one of these tools goes down, it can have a MASSIVE impact on our business, in a similar way to if we have a key team member suddenly and unexpectedly out of action. 

But the truth is that we can’t control this. Outages like this can and will happen. Instead, we need to plan for what we do during times like this. And unfortunately for those reading this as a quick fix when you don’t have access to Facebook for whatever reason, a lot of what I have suggested requires you to have already been working on these things in advance of the outage. 

For those things that you should’ve done prior to Facebook going down, well maybe now is a great time to redirect that time that you would’ve otherwise been mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed (if Facebook was available) to start working on getting those things in place for next time. Because, if I can guarantee one thing, it is that there will be a next time. 

Be prepared!

Keep up-to-date on best practice

To be prepared, you need to make sure that you’re constantly learning and keeping up-to-date on best practice digital marketing strategies, tactics and tools. The best place way to achieve this is to become a member of the Click Engage Convert Academy, where we help you optimise your digital marketing, so that you get the best possible return from organic (and paid) digital marketing, growing your bottom line and boosting your sales revenue.

If you want to prepare yourself to get the best possible results from your digital marketing, regardless of whether or not Facebook is working, then I encourage you to check out the Click Engage Convert Academy.