What marketers can do next time a major social network goes down

Today, Facebook is on track to overcome its longest outage in 15 years – more than four hours on March 13, 2019. Instagram and WhatsApp are also affected, as are Messenger and Oculus VR due to the day’s outage. The reason appears to be a persistent DNS failure.

During the downtime, social media managers and advertisers took to Twitter to lament the platform’s blackout, and many weren’t sure what to do as the outage persisted after any previous platform glitches.

Advice from 2019

In 2019, we reached out to experienced social media strategists for advice on what advertisers should do in these circumstances. This advice (from the positions and roles they held at the time) is still useful today.

“Outfalls like the one this past week are rare,” said John Motel, director of social strategy for digital marketing agency Undertone, “and when they do occur, they hardly last more than a few hours.”

The 2019 outage prompted David Herman, co-owner and ad director at Social Outlier, to enact new guidelines on how his team should run a social campaign when a platform goes down.

“As we’ve seen before with networks, downtimes can typically range from a few minutes to an hour. Last Wednesday he was very worrisome, and I instructed my team to start pausing campaigns if the social network crossed the three-hour mark,” Hermann said.

first steps

“It may sound silly, but any social media manager or community manager who has issues with a channel should make sure that it’s not just,” said Monina Wagner, Community Director of the Content Marketing Institute. “Is your WiFi connection strong? Need a survey? Cache or reload the app?”

There are also sites like isitdown.us and downforeveryoneorjustme.com to make sure network outages are widespread. Once the platform is down, Wagner said, her team determines if the channel is too active for customers.

“If our audience usually doesn’t expect an immediate response on the channel, we treat outages on a wait-and-see basis,” Wagner said, “If we typically see a high number of requests on the channel, or if we regularly use it to have conversations with our community, we take action. “.

For Wagner, this includes starting a conversation on other channels so your audience knows that your brand is still available. She suggests, if appropriate, that brands consider having a little fun with the situation – using a meme or poll to ask how the community spends its “free” time.

“Make fun of the situation, show your audience that you’re in the same boat,” Wagner said. It also recommends using a proprietary channel such as a company blog or email newsletter to distribute an urgent message if needed.

For anyone who manages a client’s social channels, Hermann said it’s important to tell them what’s going on: “The key is to keep them informed.”

Take advantage of the situation

Wagner notes that while annoying and annoying, a major outage for a social network can provide brands with a great opportunity to better understand their community.

“Use social listening to identify issues that need immediate attention. Track brand signals, keywords, and hashtags for relevant conversations. Use this time to gauge sentiment,” Wagner said. “Identify what you can learn about your audience,” Wagner said. What did you find out about their behavior? “

It also recommends that you re-evaluate your social toolkit based on what you know about your brand’s social strategy when a major network goes down.

“Should you join another social channel? Can you strengthen your email list? Social media is tenant land. What would happen if this disruption turned into a complete shutdown? Do you have another platform for your community?” Wagner asked.

Managing advertising campaigns during power outages

Hermann recommends that brands have someone monitor their advertising spend at such an event to pause campaigns.

This is the import pane – a video screenshot of you trying to do this [pause a campaign]”In the case of Facebook, if you can’t pause campaigns, and it’s an internal bug, you can apply for Facebook credit,” Hermann said.

Hermann said that shifting ad spend from one platform to another during an outage is not necessarily the best path to take.

“Some have suggested adjusting ad spending on competing networks, but it’s hard to say how long the platform will pause to justify this,” Hermann said. His team advertises on all major social channels and hasn’t noticed a slight increase in traffic on alternative platforms during Facebook’s downtime.

“My general rule of thumb is to make sure that at least 20 percent of your budget is optimized for other platforms when a major network like Google or Facebook goes down. That way, you still make some revenue. But adjusting on a downtown basis for one network,” Hermann said. Even for a day, it’s a bit extreme in my book.”

Mottel points out that if an advertiser has time-sensitive messages or money that needs to be spent very quickly, ad funds will need to be diverted to other channels to ensure the message stays top of the line.

“more always available Advertised, drastic transitions to other platforms may not be necessary. However, in the short term, and high-volume efforts such as entertainment premieres, the change in investment may need to happen drastically and rapidly to necessarily remain relevant,” Motel said.

If the losses are significant, Hermann said, it is better if everyone involved knows and understands what is happening: “The more you can communicate, the less real the damage will be. Make a plan of action if a social channel is down for days – while it is catastrophic and unlikely, prepare it and implement it.”

Motel agrees that communication with stakeholders is critical.

Showing customers that the situation has been properly assessed, and that the game plan has been proactively laid out, will demonstrate that they can count on your company in any situation,” Motel said.

recovery mode

Once the social network restarts, Mottel said the first thing to do is to make sure all your ad campaigns are back up and running properly, and that everything looks fine from a setup standpoint.

“Closely monitor delivery and performance over the next 12 to 24 hours to ensure campaigns are stable after going live again,” Motel said.

In the days following the 2019 Facebook outage, Hermann said everything came to a halt with the campaigns his team ran.

“We’re not sure if it’s an auction or not, but the key is to turn around quickly if necessary,” Hermann said. He recommends checking the cost of actions, along with other external metrics, in the hour after the site is backed up. Ads Manager also suggests that you have content that worked in the past ready to publish.

“I would be weary of releasing anything new after the site outage, because everything needs to come back in sync in my mind — including people’s online behaviors,” Hermann said.

In addition to checking ad campaigns, Wagner said brands need to check for any pending messages.

“Maybe a message was sent during an outage, or maybe a message arrived from another part of the world that did not experience any disturbance. Wagner responded to your audience as quickly as possible.

Preparing for the next time

Hermann said he doesn’t think anyone can really plan for an event like the outage experienced by Facebook, but that doesn’t stop Ads Manager from making a plan in case it happens again.

“We are in the process of pausing campaigns and pulling budgets for up to five days after a service outage. Not a total outage, but slashing budgets for a few days to fully monitor what is really happening,” Hermann said.

Wagner said the plan for such outages should be part of your organization’s crisis-control plans. “A social media outage may not affect the integrity of your brand, but it can have disastrous results for your social team. The plan ensures that your audience hears your news regardless of the channel.”

She said plans should be simple and straightforward and include guidance on how long your organization should wait before taking action. Also, sample messages appropriate for your social media team’s platform to use on an alternative channel. (Will your Facebook speech/answers/tone of voice translate correctly to LinkedIn or vice versa?) For employees outside the social media team, Wagner recommends answers to frequently asked questions.

“Your customers may look to more traditional channels to reach the brand. You want your non-social team to have pre-approved messaging,” Wagner said.

Finally, she and Hermann say it’s important to just breathe.

“It’s legit, it’s worrisome, but it’s out of our control,” Hermann said. “The key is to make sure your customers are informed, and that you’re ready to jump in again once things are ready.”

Original report by Amy Geisenhaus

About the author

Kim Davis is the managing editor of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for more than two decades, Kim started covering foundation programs ten years ago. His expertise includes SaaS for enterprise, digital data-driven urban planning, SaaS applications, digital technology, and data in marketing. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a website dedicated to marketing technology, which later became a channel on the well-established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN in 2016, as Senior Editor, became Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief, a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was an associate editor for the New York Times super local news site The Local: East Village, Previously, he worked as an academic publication editor and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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