When Facebook recently went down for six hours, was your business significantly affected? Were your customers unable to reach your company? Did it disrupt important ad campaigns or outreach efforts? Were customers unable to order products or services?
No? That’s good. Yes? Your business is at significant risk. You’ve put all of your eggs into one basket, which is always a bad business strategy.
Facebook will go down again. If a large billion dollar business goes offline for six hours, disrupting communications for billions of users and millions of businesses, you can be certain that the platform is vulnerable to future technical failures.
Facebook also faces an impending break-up of the company, which will affect its services in unpredictable ways.
“POSSE” — Post Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere. A POSSE publication has an official, canonical home on a server of the author’s control, but everything that appears on that permalink site is also published simultaneously on other platforms, to reach readers where they live.” (Cory Doctorow, “Dead Letters”)
Are you an advertiser with Facebook? That’s a problem, because Facebook lies to advertisers about reach, engagement and metrics. Which third party service to you use to audit what Facebook tells you about your ad spend? That’s right, you don’t use one, because none exist. Facebook doesn’t allow third party auditing and it expects you to believe everything it says about metrics. More and more information is coming out about Facebook’s lying and deception to advertisers. It’s currently facing legal troubles with the SEC for misleading investors about many things. This include ad metrics.
What should your business (or organization) do to prepare for Facebook’s next outage?
- You Have to Have a Website or Page
If your business only has a Facebook page, you are doing things wrong. Your business has to have an independent identity online and that usually involves having a website or a page. At the minimum, you can set up a page at GoDaddy, Squarespace or Wix, tied to a domain that reflects your branding. You can set up a basic page yourself or find somebody to do it. These services are affordable and domains are cheap.
If your business has lots of services and needs to present lots of information, you need a website set up by a professional.
This step is the most important one in developing a diverse, reliable online presence. If a platform goes down, your customers can still use a search engine to find your business online.
- Diversify Your Marketing Efforts
Are you doing all of your advertising, outreach and promotion through Facebook? How do you know if those marketing dollars are effective? You say that Facebook provides stats about the performance of your campaigns?
How do you know that these figures are accurate? You don’t. Nobody knows except Facebook. More and more is coming to light about Facebook lying to advertisers about advertising metrics. There are even new revelations about Google and Facebook colluding to fix advertising markets. But the thing you should know is that there is no third party auditing of Facebook’s advertising metrics.
Now you can measure the effectiveness of these campaigns yourself indirectly, but this will be the subject of another post.
Your business should be pursuing marketing across different channels and media. Digital is important, but don’t forget traditional media such as print and local media. Your potential customers, especially young people, may not even use Facebook or Instagram.
If your business sells products and/or services, it needs to have an e-commerce site or presence on a shopping platform like Shopify or Etsy. Setting up an e-commerce site on your own site involves some legwork, but it pays to have your own solution and control of how your customers interact with your products. The pandemic demonstrated that many businesses were not prepared for big changes in consumer behavior. Many businesses pivoted quickly. If setting up an e-commerce site seems like overkill, at least establish sales on platforms like Etsy, Shopify or Kajabi.
- No Magical One Platform Solution
There isn’t one platform that is the best solution for small businesses, other than adopting the POSSE solution described above by Cory Doctorow for authors. Your business should have a presence across platforms AND have it’s own website or landing page. Given that Facebook and Google will be broken up as monopolies in the next 2-3 years, there will be significant changes to their services. Even without these larger developments, these companies are always changing their terms of service and changing the functionality of how their services operate. This is one reason why your business has to have a presence across platforms.