This article was written on October 5th 2021, in response to the global Facebook outage.
The outage affected the complete catalogue of Facebook companies, including Instagram and Whatsapp, and lasted approximately 6-7 hours.
Today's Facebook outage showed how reliant we have become on a single service provider.
This is especially true for many small businesses.
Facebook was down for just 6 hours, but during that time there were tens of thousands of small businesses who:
- Couldn't take orders
- Couldn't communicate with customers at all
- Couldn't receive enquiries
- Couldn't earn an income
So, what should small business owners take away from today's events?
1. Stop being totally reliant on a single 3rd party platform to run your business
Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp are all owned and operated by Facebook.
By running your business on these platforms alone, you open yourself up to catastrophe.
At any stage, Facebook can decide to lock you out of your account, start charging for posting, or anything else (let alone the possibility of outages).
If you create a different platform to also run your business through (a website or Google listing for example), you reduce the risk of being unable to operate when these types of things happen.
You've heard the saying "diversify your portfolio", and you understand that this saying exists because good wisdom tells us that if we invest all of our money into one stock, and that stock crashes, we lose all of our money.
Why not apply that same logic to business?
Your business is your money maker.
You've invested more than your life savings into growing the business.
You've invested a ton of your time, sweat, and tears as well.
If building your business to the point it is at today has cost you so much, why wouldn't you look to secure those investments by reducing your reliance on a single platform?
And this goes all ways as well - not just for people who rely on Facebook to run their business.
Those who only have a website need to branch out into other areas as well.
If for no other reason than it's good business to do so.
Facebook and Instagram are fantastic tools, with genuine business opportunities, and the ability to earn a significant income through those platforms alone.
But Today has shown everyone exactly why those pesky web designers have been harassing business owners into getting a website built for their business.
It's not just to make another sale for their web design business.
It's because you genuinely need to branch out and expand the platforms you're doing business on.
Third party platforms (platforms we don't own ourselves) were designed to help us in our businesses, but the more advanced they became, the lazier we got, to the point where tens of thousands of small businesses now completely rely on these third party platforms as their sole business presence.
And yes, I did say we became lazy.
It's much easier to put together a free Facebook page for our business than it is to put together a high converting, beautiful, website.
And it's much cheaper too.
So, many of us simply default to what is easy and cheap, and as long as we have clients or customers, we don't really care about whether or not we could be doing more to find greater success in business because, well....
it's too much effort...
When we own our own platform, we take control back in our own hands and protect our businesses from any potential downfalls of having everything attached to a single 3rd party platform.
Yes, websites can crash too.
But that's the point of having a website along side a social media presence.
You literally have a better chance of winning the lottery and being struck by lightning, than your website crashing and your social media accounts being offline at the same time.
This doesn't even begin to address the fact that everything you post on social media automatically becomes property of the company you upload it to.
In essence, this means that all of your customer details, followers, account information - EVERYTHING - belongs to Facebook and Instagram.
You agree to this being the case when you sign up for an account.
This means they can close your account, deny you access to your details, or make you pay whatever price they decide to continue running your business accounts.
Whenever they like
This has happened in the past (remember a time before "boosting posts" was a thing and all of your followers saw all of your posts for free?), and it will happen again.
Make sure you're not bitten when it does happen, and stop relying on a single third party platform for all of your business needs.
2. Create your own client database
People have become super lazy and rely on flicking through Facebook messenger or Instagram DM's to find ways to contact potential or even current clients.
Instead, create your own data base that you control access to that contains information on all of the ways to make contact with these people - INCLUDING email addresses and phone numbers!!
This way, if you're ever unable to access contact information, or simply unable to dm people, you have alternative ways to get in touch and generate more business.
Tens of thousands of small businesses had absolutely no way to contact clients for over 6 hours today because they didn't spend the time putting a database together.
Putting a database together can be super simple.
An excel spreadsheet is enough to help you out here.
At it's most basic form, all you need to do is record the names of all current and potential customers (including which category they fall in to), along with any of their contact details.
Doing this "Crash-proofs" your business.
Instead of spending 6 hours where no one can contact you, and you have no idea how to reach out to anyone else, you have a database you can refer to and contact all of your clients just to update them about the outage and your inability to take questions or bookings over social media.
This is a great opportunity to serve your existing customers and create a new touch point that could lead to an up-sell of some kind.
A 6 hour Facebook outage and being forced to manually contacting each customer could be the most productive 6 hours of your week, month, or year.
Likewise, contacting all of your potential customers about the Facebook outage is a great ice-breaker to follow up on anything that needs following up on.
But if all of your contacts details are on social media, none of this is possible.
So develop your own database.
3. Give customers and potential customers all of your contact information.
Just as business owners struggled to make contact with customers today, too many customers and potential customers had absolutely no way of making contact with these businesses because their only touch point has been on social media AND all of the external contact information is only on their Facebook or Instagram accounts.
Take 30 seconds to ask for a potential customers email address and send them an email with your contact information.
This way they will always be able to contact you somehow, and you can continue running your business through any outages.
Essentially, today was another good reminder to all of those business owners who feel like having a Facebook page is sufficient to run a successful business that putting all of your eggs in one basket is great when the basket is strong.
But if that basket breaks, you're screwed.