Small businesses reliant on Facebook and Instagram have been dealt a hard lesson this morning, after a global outage of Facebook services shut down business pages for six hours.
The outage hit Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, affecting millions of businesses and influencers around the world who depend on those platforms to engage customers and promote their products.
Sally Branson Dalwood, founder of the small business The Suite Set, uses Instagram to connect with her customers on a daily basis and offer in-app shopping options.
The Gold Coast-based small business owner, who sells hospital bag organisers for new parents, says the outage significantly affected her business because Instagram is one of its strongest communications and sales channels.
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“[The outage] affects us in a really immediate way. There are some customers who now only shop on social media platforms because they like the ease and immediacy,” Branson Dalwood tells SmartCompany.
“I imagine sales will be down for however long an outage goes,” she adds.
Small businesses turn to email marketing
Like other small business owners, Branson Dalwood woke to the outage on Tuesday morning, finding herself cut off from her customers.
She says the outage is a reminder that businesses can’t be too reliant on social media platforms and should keep their websites and customer databases up to date.
“This morning I sent an email out to our EDM list, reminding people we’re always contactable by our email and our products are available on our webpage,” says Branson Dalwood.
Around the world, more than 3.5 billion people use Facebook’s family of social media platforms for business, personal and community use.
Last year, some Australian small businesses were caught up in Facebook’s news ban which temporarily blocked business pages and their posts.
At the time, lawyers told SmartCompany it was unlikely businesses could claim compensation from Facebook for a loss of sales due to the ban.
Facebook has not revealed what caused the current outage but security experts believe the issue was related to problems with Facebook’s server computers, The New York Times reports.
As services were restored across its apps and services from 9.30am this morning, a Facebook spokesperson apologised to everyone affected by the outage.
“We know billions of people and businesses around the world depend on our products and services to stay connected. We appreciate your patience as we come back online,” they said in a statement provided to SmartCompany.
Influencers cut off from followers
The outage also meant influencers and the businesses that pay them were also cut off from networks of millions of followers.
Taryn Williams, founder and chief executive of The Influencers Agency, says businesses are more likely to suffer financially compared to influencers because their advertising campaigns will be affected.
Williams, who leads the full service-management agency that creates marketing strategies for businesses working with influencers, says brands were this morning forced to reorganise their marketing strategies at the last moment.
“Campaigns are obviously unable to go live today which is really challenging for brands because they are usually a part of a broader marketing strategy,” Williams tells SmartCompany.
Influencers will also have to reschedule their posts while trying to avoid having back-to-back paid posts from other business clients.
“It will be a juggle for any influencer who has quite a busy schedule,” Williams says.