I saw overturned cars, plumes of smoke in the distance. A woman lay on the curb asking for Candy Crush Hearts. It was madness.
— Michael Suibhne (@okmass)
Yesterday (3/13/2019), Facebook and its associated properties – Instagram and Whatsapp – went down worldwide yesterday at 11 AM. Facebook has blamed this outage on a server configuration change, which lasted until sometime earlier this morning (source). There were riots! Panic in the streets! People had to read actual books! #ACTUALBOOKS!
This is being listed as the worst Facebook outage since 2014, when it went down for a whole 30 minutes, and while it didn’t go down for everybody this time, it’s never been down for this long at one time.
While I may joke about it, it does give me an opportunity to talk about why it’s important for local businesses to have multiple communication channels.
Facebook Is Big
If you follow the news, you know Facebook is having some trouble lately, but they’re still the biggest game in town. Monthly, Facebook sees 2.32 billion active users worldwide (source). They also own Instagram and Whatsapp, which also have huge numbers of regular users. That’s a lot of people. If you’re a business, that’s a lot of people you can reach. Most businesses today understand that if you really want to reach a wide market, you have to make use of Facebook. It radically redefined marketing in the 21st century and despite it’s #upsanddowns, it’s still one of the most important tools a business has at its disposal.
Tech giants are people, too, despite what you may have heard about Mark Zuckerberg. If there’s one thing people are known for, it’s making mistakes. So, even if they’re not frequent, outages are going to happen on social media platforms, just the same as they happen in every other industry. It’s unavoidable.
One of the most avoidable mistakes, however, is being left without a way to talk to your customers. You should never have just one communication channel – or, in #laymansterms, a way to talk to people. If you rely entirely on Facebook, then any time Facebook has a problem, whether global, local, or just your own screw-up, then your customers are left in the dark.
Furthermore, while Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, there are still people who don’t use it. Whether they have other preferences, just never got around to signing up, or cite disagreements with Facebook’s assorted end-user policies, some people just aren’t there.
So, it’s a bad idea to rely on just one social media platform to be your link to your customers.
Our basic recommendation is that any local business should have at least 3 social media accounts. Facebook and Twitter are the top 2, but you should have at least one more. The third choice is up to you, so look around and see what you can find. That way, when something happens on one of your platforms, you can still catch your customers with others.
Don’t just leave it all to social media, though. That’s a big one, but it’s far from the only one. Your customers need to be able to contact you through private means, too. E-mail, phone and text messaging, and support chats are all useful tools you should have on top of your social feeds.
If you have chat programs attached to your site or social media account, consider chatbots. No, I don’t mean those annoying programs that pop into message boards and chat windows to drop ads on you. Never use a bot to interrupt somebody else’s conversation; this just annoys them. What I mean by chatbot is a program that responds to certain questions. You can find good chatbots out there that look for certain keywords and can provide answers to frequently asked questions. They can save you a lot of time having to talk to every customer who’s got a question. Your customers do still need to be able to contact you directly, however; that’s why these programs will include a way for a user to hook up with you directly if the chatbot can’t answer their question.
Get In Touch
Internet marketing isn’t too hard, but it can be time consuming. We understand that, and that’s why we’ve made it our business. If you want to get some help with marketing yourself online, why not get in touch with us? We can help you get an edge on your competition by helping you develop a social media plan, and by helping you rank higher in search engines, and get more positive reviews from satisfied customers.