23 Aug Social Media Down Time Doesn’t Have to Be a Customer Experi…
Social media downtime is a challenge for any brand. Marketers are forced to reshuffle their schedules, and customers are often left in the lurch. To mitigate the impacts of social media outage (an increasingly common phenomenon), we look at:
- What marketers can do to prepare for outage scenarios
- What to do when social media is down – three action points
- How to respond once social channels are back live
Businesses around the globe depend on social media for a variety of purposes. From garnering publicity for new product launches to conducting day-on-day customer support activities, tools like Facebook and Instagram can be a major driver of engagement. That’s why when social media giant Facebook went down on March 13, 2019, marketers faced a major challenge.
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What would happen to posts and shares already scheduled on HubSpot or Hootsuite? What about specific social media campaigns designed particularly for that day and time? Who would respond to customers/prospects’ queries via social channels? And, most importantly, what would be the impact on overall engagement levels?
Interestingly, 2019 has been a landmark year in terms of social media outage frequency. While the March downtime was definitely Facebook’s longest, there have been sporadic instances across the year, disrupting marketing plans. Further, given that Facebook’s assets now span Instagram and WhatsApp, marketers need to have a contingency plan in case all these social media channels go down together.
Here’s what you can do to ensure that the next social media outage isn’t a nightmare for your customer experience (CX) capabilities.
1. The Pre-Outage Phase: What to Do Even Before Social Media Goes Down
It’s essential to prepare for an outage. There are several measures you can take to ensure there are viable alternatives if social media goes down unexpectedly:
- Invest in your website: Traditionally, a brand’s website was its primary source of traffic, responsible for communicating any news/update to customers. If social media is down, it is likely that your customers will turn to the website to solve queries and reach out to your brand. An SEO-optimized site, mobile-friendly design, and a detailed FAQ section will make sure your customers don’t feel disengaged at this time.
- Broaden your social presence: Given that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are managed by the same corporate entity, it makes sense to create handles and build a community outside of this family of apps. Twitter is a great medium for B2C customers, while LinkedIn is useful if you have a large B2B audience – or want to connect with investors, partners, and other stakeholders.
- Explore offline CX routes: In the age of social media, channels such as television and SMS are often ignored. However, these still boast of a massive user base and can prove extremely useful if social media goes down. Develop SMS marketing capabilities so you can update your customers in case of an outage. This technique can be deployed even during internal downtime periods. TV ad placements, on the other hand, keep your brand relevant regardless of the user’s access to social media or a smartphone.
2. The In-Outage Phase: What You Can Do if Social Media is Down
Recent trends suggest that a social media outage isn’t a case of “if”, but a definite “when”. That’s why you need a clear checklist of tasks once the outage strikes. This includes:
- Check if the problem is localized: This should be part of any due diligence plan for social media marketers. Test in-house network connectivity, see if the problem is limited to your device, and isolate the problem to either the social platform (for example, Facebook) or the management platform (for instance, Hubspot). There are several platforms to help you do this such as Downdectector, isitdown.us, and others.
- Update your customers via other channels: It’s now time to leverage the fail-safes that you set up in Phase 1 and reach out to customers via SMS or even a mass email push.
- Re-organize your social media schedule: With social media down for an indefinite period, it often makes sense to postpone any specialized campaign or promotion for the next day. Instead of waiting and watching if the outage ends, plan around it and use the time wisely. You can create content for non-affected channels, prepare updates to be shared when social media is back up, and re-organize your post-schedule during this phase.
- Leverage a social media outage to your advantage: You can use an outage to engage your customers on a different channel, starting a conversation around how they are feeling, what they need, and what you can do to serve your customers better and so better manage CX. With Facebook down, audiences typically flock to a different social network like Twitter – content shared there during this period can earn high traffic. Here’s how UNESCO leveraged social media downtime to promote its latest report:
3. The Post-Outage Phase: What to Do When Social Media is Back Up
This is probably the most crucial part of managing CX when social media is down. Once all channels are live again, you could be inundated with a backlog of messages waiting for your response. Here’s what you can do in this phase:
- Publicly update your customers about your brand’s online status: Using the social media network which suffered an outage, reach out to your audience with a public post. It’s advisable to make this post (the first your customers will see after a long interval) visually rich, memorable, and clever in terms of…