Lessons to learn from the Oct. 4 Facebook outage

Oct. 4 was a date that will live in social media infamy. 

OK, that was probably hyperbole, but when Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram went down for six hours on Oct. 4, you could almost hear small business owners collectively draw a deep breath and sigh.

If your business relies heavily on social media to market daily specials, find new employees, or other essential business functions, it was a crippling way to start a day. The overarching lesson: Since you don’t own the service, you can’t control the service, and when it goes down, your business will likely go down with it.

A few lessons to learn:

  • Remember that phrase about eggs and baskets? It may be possible that Facebook and Instagram are your top social media apps. (In fact, that’s likely, based on data.) But make sure you pay homage to the others your business has in your suite of offerings is a good idea. Twitter and TikTok may not be your favorite ways to communicate, but they would have come in handy for six hours.
  • Re-evaluate how you communicate with your customers. If you don’t have an e-newsletter, it might be time to discover how to get one and utilize it regularly even if you don’t do them consistently – to hedge your bets if another outage happens. 
  • Stay on your guard about phishing attacks. Don’t let your guard down during an outage. It’s not uncommon to see an email that claims your Facebook account is locked and, hey, click this link to restore the account. Stop, take a deep breath, and wait a few minutes to think about what is going on at the moment. Google the problem and see if there are already posts about it. When in doubt, don’t click the link.
  • If your e-commerce tool uses only Facebook for users to log in, you may need to diversify. Consider Google, Twitter, or others also to let them log in. That will keep your business moving in case of another outage.
  • Have a plan for what you will post when the outage is fixed. There’s a great handy guide located here, but communicating clearly to your customers and vendors will help build credibility with them.

These are a few quick tips to think about in the aftermath of the outage. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again, but if it does, remember the lessons of Oct. 4