When FaceBook does a FacePlant, what happens to you?

Posted: September 23, 2010 in social media
Tags: , , , , , , ,

facebook is down - Service Unavailable - DNS f...

Image by abdallahh via Flickr

Once upon a time, the talk of the web was on which service to run your social media campaign.  Do you pick YouTube?  Or Facebook?  Maybe it’s on Twitter?  We quickly realized the value in diversifying campaign touch points across services.

But what about your day-to-day social media interactions?  Social media best practices tell us to communicate on the same platform that the conversation is happening on.  To which I agree, but what happens if and when that platform goes down?  You’re unplugged.  So are they.  Some of them may be connected to one another in other ways (maybe they still use that numerical identification system I’ve read about… it had a funny name. I think it was tellafone). But how else are you connected?

Facebook says there are over 900 Million objects that people interact with on Facebook (pages, groups, events and community pages).  TechCrunch estimates 3 million active Facebook pages alone as of August, 2010. It’s easy for users to interact with your brand on Facebook’s platform.  It’s easy for you to talk to them too.  There’s also the strong pull of demographic info.  Who likes our page?  What do they like to do?  What age category are they in?  Depending on what users have shared, this is a data gold mine for a company.  It’s no wonder there are so many eggs sitting in the Facebook basket.

And yet, what do you do when Facebook goes down?  How do you communicate with all of those people?  If you’re smart, you’ve already begun to find other ways of connecting with these same consumers (*ahem* blog, Twitter, email, SMS, snail mail, carrier pigeon *cough cough*).  You’ve told them about your email newsletter list, or the perks they get for enrolling as a member on your website.  If you’re not, you’ve just been cut off from the thousands of people you’ve been cultivating a connection with over the past few months, or even the last couple of years.

Starbucks, one of the first big brands to really embrace Facebook tools to market themselves, does this well.  Connecting Facebook users to their MyStarbucks account was Brilliant.  Notice their primary goal isn’t to get more people to like their Facebook page.  No, this is but the first step in their Facebook customer funnel.  Facebook is the attractor.  It has interesting tidbits for new and current users alike.  It has tools that enable Starbucks lovers to share that love of Starbucks coffee with others.  Their Facebook presence is like the employee holding the sample of deliciously salty pretzels dipped in creamy sweet milk chocolate on the busy street corner and as you sample this new Starbucks treat, they point you towards the open door where you can buy some (along with the pumpkin spiced latte that’s back for a limited time… btw).

When Facebook is down, Starbucks isn’t out an entire community, it just means their sampler called in sick.

It’s easy enough to do for Starbucks.  They’re a corporate giant.  They have the dollars and the manpower to build that regardless.  What about Mom &  Pop Coffee?  There’s no way they can do the same thing.  Except… wait a minute.  They can.  The community may not be as big, the tools may not be the same, but the concept sure can be.  Mom & Pop Coffee, do you have an email newsletter your Facebook fans can sign up for?  How about a variety of ways for you to share specials with them?  Perhaps using Yelp?  Or maybe Foursquare?  There’s the new fad too of daily deals like Groupon or LivingSocial.

So when Facebook goes down and you’ve got something to say, are you at a loss as to how you will get the word out?  Or are you able to bring out your phone tree and spread the news anyway?

  1. John Tyler says:

    Interesting post Wendy!

    I’ve been doing some thinking on backup communication systems. As the various online services become widely accepted and used, we are becoming more reliant on those services always being there.

    I can see three different points of failure. The one you mentioned, the online services themselves. When the servers go down for a particular service, it might be annoying or costly, but other options for communication are still available.

    What if it’s not the servers crashing, but a failure in the cell towers, or wireless networks. Or specific ISP’s go down. The online services are still available, but just inaccessible. Though more unlikely, there isn’t much of a work-around if it does happen. This would be an interesting area of study, to research and develop some alternate means of communication.

    The third point would be the consumer devices themselves, the smartphone, laptops and computeers. Though mass failure would be unlikely, it’s one of the easier work-arounds. Just fix or replace your device.

    Some things to think about 🙂

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