On 4th October 2021, Monday, global users were experiencing an outage on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Everything was shut down for about 6 hours.
Users were unable to access or load any new content from those platforms.
Many reports indicated that the outage was caused by DNS (domain name server) issues but I’m pretty sure Facebook will not disclose much about the exact reason.
During the beginning of downtime, just like other social media users, I was on Twitter checking for updates and news about the latest development.
This means they are highly dependable on third-party platforms and therefore extremely vulnerable.
Here are some of the thoughts I had during the downtime.
1. The one who controls the data will rule the world
When a business is just starting out, it usually only focuses on sales and sustainability instead of other ‘minor things’ (for example, customer data).
In fact, owning your customer data is crucial for the future of the business, including recurring business opportunities.
What I want to emphasize here is not just names, phone numbers or email addresses, but also past purchasing history, communication records and customer preferences data.
If you have not collected your customer data neatly, one of the best ways to do it is by calling. Yes, just call them and ask.
The earlier you invest in a proper CRM (customer relationship management) system or a centralised data management solution, the stronger you are in the future.
2. Always have a plan B or more
In Malaysia, WhatsApp is still considered the primary choice of communication app.
However, that’s just me. What about your customers?
My point is when unpredictable incidents happen, users will always find a way to communicate with businesses for support.
If your business heavily depends on communication features from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, it’s time to consider other options – plan B.
Don’t put all eggs in one basket.
3. Place more Focus on your own website, because you own it
However, these eCommerce marketplace giants can change the game anytime, like increasing transaction fees or charging an additional cost to the sellers.
When that happens, you must pay them and gain less if you want to stay on the platform.
The same goes with all the social media platforms, they can change the algorithm and lower the impression rate of your content or ads anytime.
On the other hand, by placing more focus on your website (creating good content and constantly improving your website or online store), you are planting seeds today for bountiful crops and a great harvest in the future.
Who knows a brand new platform will emerge on the new market to replace Facebook and Instagram in future?
Remember, your website is owned by you and controlled by you.
4. Backup, Backup and Backup
Regardless if you are a one-man band or running a huge business, backup is essential as it gives you insurance in case anything bad happens.
To be honest, all digital devices and platforms have a risk of getting infected or malfunction, and history has proven it.
Switching to a cloud-based solution is a good starting point to have a better backup, but you should also make sure to have a local backup.
The 3-2-1 backup rule is one of the best data protection strategies to keep your data safe in virtually all failure scenarios.
So, when Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp is down again in future, you will always have the backup solution to run your business like normal.
5. Pay attention to other platforms or apps
This is rather similar to point number two (always have a plan B). It is recommended to monitor emerging platforms or apps closely.
As I write, TikTok is the champion app for short videos.
YouTube’s Stories and Instagram’s Reels are following the same concept.
If you are fast enough to become the early adopter, you will enjoy the benefits of low competition.
While Facebook and Instagram still have the largest market share worldwide, remember nothing stays forever in the digital world.
Observe the trend and be an early adopter of some potential platforms. Early bird gets the worm.
Is your business able to function without them?
Lastly, most businesses still need to rely on Facebook and Instagram, not to mention the integration of WhatsApp into the Facebook ecosystem that makes many users stay with it.
Anyway, yesterday’s outage is a good chance to rethink your business vulnerability.
This is how I see it: every crisis lies an opportunity. It can be a turning point for all of us.
It’s just like how SME businesses in Malaysia moved on to digitalize their operation in order to sustain during the MCO (Movement Control Order) in 2020.
So, together let’s continue to grow our business online.