If your business relies on social media then you were probably feeling a little anxious when Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp – which are all owned by Facebook, which is now known as Meta – went down for around six hours.
For me, it was a much quieter evening than usual with far fewer interruptions from my phone. That said, I spend most of my time on social using Twitter and TikTok (no – it’s not just teenagers performing the latest dance craze) so I enjoyed the very funny content creators I follow talking about the outage. Facebook’s communications exec Andy Stone even used Twitter to update users on the issue.
Everything was back to normal the following day, albeit with $6 billion dollars wiped from Facebook’s share price. So aside from those affected by that gigantic loss, did anyone really care about not being able to post a picture of their dog or contact friends for a few hours?
I suspect those who own businesses that rely solely on social media for their sales and customer service channels did – and there are plenty of them. At the time, nobody knew how long the platforms would be down or what the end result would be.
The moral of the story? It’s an old one but it’s not wise to put all your eggs in one basket if you can possibly help it. I recently drafted a proposal for an organisation that thought their only way to reach people was via social media; there are so many other options.
Owned media – which includes your website and your social channels – is great but there are other ways to promote your brand, raise your profile or increase sales. The first point to consider is who are you trying to reach? Different audiences will prefer different forms of communication, just don’t make too many sweeping assumptions without doing a little research. For example, you won’t find a lot of young people on Facebook but you may well be able to target older generations on the platform.
Consider direct mail. Although it went out of fashion for a while, with inboxes overloaded a good mailing to a select audience can really capture attention. With working from home and hybrid working now very much on the increase, there is the added challenge of knowing where to send it so again, it’s worth doing your research.
Getting media coverage can also be an extremely effective way to get your message across to your audience. Known as earned media, it’s perhaps the hardest to achieve but having a third party talk about your service or product – which you haven’t paid for – could arguably be the most respected way to reach out to your audience.
Journalists won’t print puff pieces though, you need to develop a story, provide interesting insight or expert comment and target the right publications or websites, preferably accompanied by a professionally taken photograph. This is where it can be useful to involve a third party (such as a PR agency!) who are experts in spotting a story and packaging it correctly for the media.
Advertising, known as paid media, is a way of saying almost anything you want, where you want. If you issue a press release, it’s highly likely to be changed by the journalist or blogger before it’s published whereas if you’ve paid for an ad, it won’t be touched. Just remember your audience also knows it’s paid-for content.
Finally, don’t forget your stakeholders. Communicating directly via a briefing note, a virtual or a face-to-face meeting can be invaluable. Sometimes it’s really important for them to hear from you direct, rather than to read about you in the news.
Now, where’s my phone? It must be time to take a picture of my dinner and pop it on Insta.
Have you even made a pavlova if you don't post it on Instagram?
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