In the forty-minute interval between leaving the office yesterday evening and arriving home, I encountered a number of people that were unaware that Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp servers had down since before 4.45pm and there was no service. Having checked my Twitter feed and evening news alerts before heading off on my commute, I knew that any WhatsApp messages sent in the late afternoon had not delivered and the traditional scroll on my Instagram feed on the train (for the first time since March 2020), would not be happening.
From brief conversations and communication with a few friends and family members, they commented that their ‘WhatsApp messages weren’t delivering’ or that their ‘Instagram wouldn’t login’ – over an hour after the server’s went down. Whether still in work or occupied elsewhere, they hadn’t been made aware of the situation and quickly turned to blame their WiFi connection, mobile data, or unreliable handheld devices.
There was a need for an urgent response to update users, but without access to their own platforms, the communications teams for Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp had to look elsewhere. There is no doubt that the traditional media coverage of #Instagramdown and #facebookdown would have filtered out to the masses eventually, but would it be fair to say that media coverage alone would be enough to reach their target audience? As Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp took to Twitter yesterday evening, it would appear not. And where would these social media giants be if they didn’t have access to another network to communicate their message?
The social media giants are often viewed as ‘competitor’s, challenging for users, advertising revenue and to be the social media platform of choice – and rightly so. But if Monday’s experience is anything to go by, the social media giants understand the importance of developing and maintaining a multi-channel presence, and the need rely on their ‘competitors’ to promote their own platform(s) and communicate with existing and potential new users.
If the ‘big guns’ can use a competitor platform, it is clear that they recognise the importance of a multi-channel social media presence. While communication through traditional media channels will continue to be a vital part of PR and communications, the role of digital and social media is equally essential. We can no longer rely solely on one method of communication to reach target audiences, whether they are customers, clients, staff or other stakeholders.
With a combined following of over 51.2 million followers on Twitter, it would be fair to say that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have invested significant time developing their presence on the chatter platform. This investment paid off last night and there is a lesson to be learned here for organisations, both large and small.
Developing a social media presence can be a lengthy and time-consuming process, but the benefit of having immediate access to ‘owned’ channels to get a message out there quickly is extremely valuable.
If we can take one thing from #Instagramdown #Whatsappdown and #Facebookdown, it is that investment in the development of any social media platform can be beneficial when it comes to keeping relevant parties updated in a time of crisis or an issue. This is an aside from the contribution social media can make to day-to-day operations, whatever the nature of the business.
It invites the question - why not start to develop your online presence today?
While a short-term inability to access social networks may seem trivial, incessant scrolling and participation in group chats has become the norm; and even more so in the last 18 months. But we survived one evening with only Twitter to turn to, and maybe we are better for it.
About the author: Fiona Peppard
Fiona is a Senior Account Manager and joined Heneghan in March 2018 as an intern after finishing her degree in Dublin City University. She takes a leading strategic and tactical role across a range of corporate, healthcare and technology clients. Fiona is also the agency’s social media specialist where she provides clients with strategic and activation advice, working to develop their online presence through native and sponsored campaigns.