Facebook may have been inaccessible for millions of Internet users across Europe, the Middle East and Africa for a couple of hours or so on Wednesday. Although the site itself appeared to be working, users across EMEA found that they couldn’t access the site at all. #Facebookdown became a global trending topic on Twitter in a matter of minutes as social media users shared their experiences and tried to find out more about the apparent outage. Meanwhile, marketers across the region trying to update their Facebook brand pages obviously found that they were inaccessible too.
The good news for marketers is that, more than likely, most of their Facebook fans weren’t able to access their branded pages either, so it wasn’t really a crisis in the same terms as having a company website go down. However, it does neatly highlight the risk that many brands face by investing in Facebook’s platform: when there is a disruption, neither brands, nor their fans can rely on access to the page or all that branded content that sits on it. Today’s outage was a small one in the grand scheme of things. Facebook’s new changes to timelines and how brand pages work is a much larger disruption (if, arguably, an opportunity), affecting literally millions of brands. If your brand has been active on Facebook for sometime, the odds are that the time, resources and budget invested in making your page successful now adds up to quite a significant figure (and one often obscure to senior management). And you’ve made that investment in a platform that is apt to make radical changes every now and again whether you like them or not.
So, how can you manage the risk of investing in social media platforms and content for those platforms? Here’s our ten cents worth:
1. Spread your risks – It is true that Facebook is now the daddy of social networks at the moment, however many other networks are healthy and growing. Often, the effort required to adapt content and engagement practices for additional networks is relatively a small commitment, so building audiences across different social networks is no bad thing.
2. Host your own content – Many marketers have wondered what the point of having their own website is, when Facebook pages are so easy to brand, showcase content and encourage engagement for? It’s disruptions like today’s that highlight why having your own managed web content within your own domain is so important. So, don’t create all your best work for third party platforms either – save a little sizzle for your own.
3. Invest in content management – There are an increasing number of platforms that allow brands to host multi-media content in a secure online environment and then disseminate the content they choose across different social media platforms. These not only make larger scale campaigns easier to manage, but also allow you to create new social media profiles full of archived content.
4. Link back to direct communications – Although we hear more and more about the death of email, it still works! Opt-in email (and even opt-in SMS) allow you to connect, push content and secure engagement from key audiences regardless of what social media platforms you promote.
5. Monitoring and analytics – There are many challenges to measuring the returns from social media campaigns, but there are plenty of ways to measure. It’s worth the effort to monitor, analyse and review how audiences are engaging with your brand across different digital channels: results are seldom one-sided. Then prioritise opportunities for action, rather than simply taking the path of least resistance.
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