Facebook’s global outage in October also shut down Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, effectively stopping commerce and networking in its tracks for the more than 10 million businesses that advertise on Facebook’s platforms. This turn of events was a wake-up call for businesses that primarily rely on the platform to engage with their customers. In light of this, and given the risk of potential future social media interruptions, businesses should diversify their approach to reaching customers.
Below, we highlight additional communication channels and steps that will expand your base and protect your ability to stay in touch with your audience in a timely and reliable manner, in the event of another catastrophic outage.
Aside from third-party sites, companies should open other digital avenues to communicate directly with their customers. An important step in establishing your company's public online presence is creating a website to house critical resources and provide customers with information straight from the source. It's essential to maintain and update your site so that your audience can use it effectively on a 24/7 basis.
You can also take it a step further and build email lists to send direct newsletters and email blasts to your key stakeholders. It's a cost-effective means of informing them of significant and relevant news; building relationships; maintaining regular contact with clients, customers and business partners and staying in contact during emergencies.
Another popular option is a custom app that will enable direct communication, data collection, and regular opportunities to strengthen your relationships with customers. Many consumer-facing brands have had success with this approach in recent years. Apps also may appeal to some customers if your business can provide value with in-app-only deals, for example, or with personalized offers depending on a customer’s preferences.
With the rise in popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Instagram Reels in 2020 to compete with the app, including allowing users to similarly create short videos set to music, on-screen text and camera filters. However, the success of TikTok is undeniable with over 2.6 billion downloads worldwide. The short-form video app lends itself to fast, authentic and trendy content, and its broad appeal can be attributed in part to its intelligent algorithm. Starting a TikTok for your brand can help you reach this rapidly growing audience. For example, Amazon alone has five official TikTok accounts; its Amazon Prime Video account is the most popular, with 8.2 million followers. The company also has successfully leveraged influencer- and ambassador-created content and reposts organically created TikTok trends like #amazonfinds which has over 13.7 billion views.
If your business is big on lifestyle content on Instagram, you might want to consider Pinterest. According to Hootsuite, this image-sharing service gained more than 100 million monthly active users in 2020. Pinterest makes it easy for consumers to see your products and go straight to the source of the image via links to your company website. Pinterest users are three times more likely to click over to a brand’s website than users of any other social media platform.
YouTube is another video-sharing platform that is helpful for detailed informational content. YouTube launched in 2005 and is still going strong with 2 billion logged-in monthly users. CEOs can leverage videos on YouTube to serve as the public face of the company and create stronger relationships with customers. Other company leaders can also become established as spokespeople and industry thought leaders through videos on the platform.
"Pinterest users are three times more likely to click over to a brand’s website than users of any other social media platform."
It's well known that many people, for better or worse, rely on Facebook for news and information. However, many journalists and customers also look to Twitter for updates, breaking news and lively debate. In fact, many users flocked to Twitter to learn more about the Facebook outage as it was happening. Twitter can be an effective message-dissemination tool for businesses looking to reach broad as well as niche audiences. Tweets that reach influencers, third-party industry organizations or other interested followers who have proactively "opted in" to hear those updates help foster a community of customers and brand ambassadors.
In addition to Twitter, your company might consider Snapchat, depending on your customer base. Snapchat is no longer used solely for sending pictures between friends, and has become a popular communication platform, particularly among Gen Z users. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2021 about 65% of 18-29-year-olds favor the multimedia instant messaging app. Similar to Instagram Stories, Snapchat users follow brands for quick updates and to create a personal connection with the brand.
Don’t wait for another Facebook outage to explore other platforms that could be helping to grow your business today. Assess your business goals, establish direct communication with your customers and meet them where they are to leverage opportunities. The actions you take now on multiple channels will expand your reach and improve your chances of staying connected with your customers, even in the face of technical challenges.