This Monday was a day of disruption for paid social experts trying to work amidst the most significant Facebook outage since 2008. Snapchat also had some outages, but by no means as widespread as the Facebook impact. Facebook, Instagram and its family of apps, including WhatsApp, Oculus, and Messenger, were completely down, with no access to the interface starting at noon EST.

As ads were not served during this time frame, advertisers were not billed. However, the outage went on until just after business hours on the East Coast (around 6 pm EST), giving those who primarily work in the Facebook/Instagram platform some food for thought, and platforms like Twitter a greater user presence and a couple of laughs.

Twitter’s Tweet during the Facebook outage.

Why did this happen?

According to Facebook, configuration changes in the company’s routers/data centers were ultimately responsible for interrupting service. We will continue to monitor for any updates, as there is some speculation there could be more than what the platform is sharing. However, Facebook has made a point to clarify that there was no evidence of compromised data during the blackout.

How to limit the impact of future outages on your brand:

  • Reliance on any one audience, platform, or suite of platforms under the same umbrella is a recipe for failure. Not only are you targeting just one user segment, but if platforms experience blackouts, bugs, or digital protests, you run the risk of going dark during critical marketing periods. Be sure to expand your digital portfolio beyond just Facebook and its suite of apps by incorporating competitive platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc., into your media mix to ensure you connect with different age demographics, placements, and channels. This strategy should apply not only to your social media advertising but also to your entire digital landscape: the takeaway is to diversify your digital presence across different display, email, search, and content. Diversification should go beyond paid media and should also be true for your brand’s organic presence.
  • Make sure you also target audiences who aren’t just present on one platform. Consider using CRM data, relevant lookalikes audiences, and audience-based buying tools, such as LiveRamp and Salesforce segments. With third-and-first-party audiences at your disposal, you never have to rely solely on a single platform’s targeting for success.
  • Due to the blackout period, there will likely be an increase in competition and higher bids, resulting in accelerated delivery as the platform recovers and makes up for lost time. Review bids and budgets on Facebook/Instagram to ensure your goals are met. We also recommend you work with your SEO team to ensure your content is optimized and visible. This will save money on higher bids during blackouts.
  • Facebook, in general, has had a tumultuous year, including multiple attribution changes and increased reliance on modeled data spurred by iOS14.5; various rounds of poor press stemming from allegations of a disregard for hate speech, perpetuating poor body image, and prioritizing engagement over consumer health from a former Facebook employee.. While the platform does continue to face increased scrutiny, we don’t see Facebook and its suite of apps going away as major paid media players. That said, we wouldn’t want you to put all your eggs in one basket either, as we don’t think a customer/advertiser boycott or new regulations are out of the question.
  • Facebook is now requesting oversight board guidance, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the platform continues to flag more ads as violating special ad categories or other advertising rules. Undoubtedly, the platform will be working hard to be as compliant as possible to avoid what feels like a constant flood of questioning.
  • Facebook did see shares dip down 5% during the outage but was back up 1% the next day. With 3 billion users on the platform and a history of recovering from a colorful array of mishaps, we know the platform will continue to be a key stakeholder and the advertising dollars will continue to flow. What this has shown us, however, is that even Facebook isn’t invincible.

If you would like an audit of your own social media engagement, along with recommendations on how to better diversify your online presence, please contact us today!

POV by Gellena Lukats, Director, Paid Social Media and Mary Sutter, Director, Social Media.