‘The warning signs are there’: Why business owners must stop relying on Facebook


Source: Unsplash/dole777

Earlier this month, Facebook’s on-again-off-again outages severely impacted businesses in Australia and around the globe. From Australia to Nigeria and the US, businesses were given a stark reminder of just how much power the company really has — because you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

The outages, which occurred twice in one week, blocked access to all of Facebook’s apps and services including Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, stopping users from seeing content and advertisers from having their ads seen.  

Apart from the impact on Facebook itself, which was significant, businesses that rely heavily on Facebook’s ecosystem on a daily basis also took a hit. The Facebook ecosystem has a huge influence over the online economy, and an outage of this scale is a harsh reminder of how over-reliant many businesses have become on the tech giant’s suite of advertising tools.

It’s yet another warning sign to business owners and marketers not to put all of your eggs in a single tech giant’s basket. 

Let’s imagine the outage lasted a whole month, instead of a matter of hours. Business owners would like to think they would survive it without a scratch, but in reality, most businesses are more dependent on the social media giant than they would like to admit.

Facebook advertising is changing too

The need to break free from Facebook is about more than outages alone. Apple’s recent app tracking transparency update has been causing serious issues for Facebook’s advertisers, with businesses and marketers now unable to track users via the widely used Facebook Pixel. 

The App Tracking Transparency update means that unless iPhone users dig through their settings menu and actively choose to allow third-party tracking, it’ll be set to ‘denied’ as the default. This effectively means it’s no longer possible to track the majority of your audience through Facebook; when someone clicks on a Facebook ad through the app on a device running iOS 14.5 or above, that lead gets sucked into a black hole.

It is yet another glaring red flag for anyone who relies too heavily on the platform for revenue.

Build your own defences

For brands, marketers, and businesses that are fully reliant on Facebook or similar platforms for success, the message is clear: now is the time to start building home-grown defences to protect the future of your business. Yes, Facebook has an obscene amount of eyeballs on its platforms. But a business’s goal should be to shift those eyeballs from the news feed to your website and your email and SMS marketing lists.

A strong marketing strategy funnels potential clients and customers towards the brands’ owned channels because those are the only channels that you can 100% control. While email and SMS lists might seem like the least sexy marketing tools out there, they’re so widespread for a reason: they work. 

If you’re relying on Facebook, Google and Apple to manage your databases, you’re putting too much power in the hands of tech giants that don’t care about you or your business. It’s not just bad marketing, it’s a massive business risk. Who knows how long the next outage might be? Or how heavy-handed Apple will be with its next privacy update?  

Outages, privacy issues, and Apple’s continued assault on tracking have all shown that it’s time we stopped using Facebook’s services as a crutch, and build a strategy that will survive with or without them.

The warning signs are there. Are you listening?


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