A few short days ago, the global social media blackout caused a frenzy for many. Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp were out for an unprecedented amount of time, making it the longest outage to date. These platforms were slowly and partially restored after six hours. That’s right – almost half of a work day, causing business breakdown. In fact, Facebook lost about $65 million during this outage, according to Forbes.

Prepare, don’t panic. Shift, don’t shake. These are words of advice I would utilize during a crisis communication plan. Let’s understand that the many, intricate social media networks can be interrupted at any moment. What are are some best practices when navigating this what some would deem as “prehistoric” territory? Remember, there are generations (plural) that grew up with social media, making them a foundational piece of their day to day life. So, I use the word “prehistoric”, accurately, as one might consider a lack of social media unfathomable. OUTages will INcrease. Let’s prepare.

First, as elementary as it sounds, ask, “is this just happening to me?”. It is wise to check in with colleagues who may or may not be experiencing the issue. If you are active on Twitter, you may find the underlying joke during times of outages with the #InstagramDown or #FacebookDown hashtags. Check the thread for comedy. This is a common practice I have used, personally, to determine if my technology is the only one glitching.

This leads to a second approach: start conversations on other channels. Again, shift. Don’t shake. Although during this particular outage, Twitter was a tried and true channel still thriving. In fact, this platform had such an uptick in usage, Twitter actually tweeted, “hello literally everyone”, and it was retweeted over 3 millions times. So this example goes to show, your audience will find another avenue. Imagine herding cattle or sheep. They go where they are able to go. In this case, your audience traveled to Twitter for its latest updates, news, etc.

However, if I may give a subpoint here, your audience isn’t the only “sheep” or “cattle” being herded to the available channels during an outage. Your competition is as well. During an outage, there is less playing field for the players, meaning everyone is jockeying for everyone’s attention. This is a prime time to be creative, witty while promoting your brand, product, or service. You saw this with companies like McDonald’s tweeting: “59.6 million nuggets for my friends” in response to a “hi what can I get u” tweet. This was clever marketing for their product as well as the cheeky approach; letting everyone know they are in the same boat.

In times of uncertainty, like a social media outage, it is imperative to keep your audience informed through different channels. Conversation kills assumption. Utilizing any available social media platforms is ideal. However, keeping an updated mailing list is even better. If you have slept on a mailing list, it’s time to wake up. Sending monthly e-mail blasts to your audience with news, updates, and trends not only keeps your audience informed, but it keeps your brand/business relevant. Additionally, capitalize on hashtags, key words, and brand mentions for another avenue of continuing the conversation with your audience.

Once everything is back up and running, it is important to monitor your engagements and impressions with your social media. Make sure things look like how they were left before the blackout. Also, it is encouraged to create a post that provokes your audience in conversing once again. Ask them how they were productive during the blackout or in an amusing way, reintroduce yourself to the world. #BackLikeWeNeverLeft

Comment below tips and tricks on surviving a social media blackout and how you would navigate another one. If you need further support on ensuring your processes are in place, let’s connect for a consultation call: [email protected].