Unpacking The Facebook Shutdown

October 2021
 minute read
sorry we're closed business sign over facebook logo

On October 4th, 2021, Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp shut down, leaving many users speculating what was happening and what it meant for them. Even people who didn’t care that much about social media had some big questions. Were all their photos gone? Would they lose touch with their old friends? How would they share new information about their business? 

Luckily, the shutdown only lasted 6 hours, but the events were enough to make a dent in Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth, have people questioning their security, and raise some questions about our dependence on social media. And, as expected, it also generated a lot of biting memes showcasing the fleeting nature of social media. 

As a web design and digital marketing agency, we of course have some opinions on this. 

What Happened

Why Did Facebook Shut Down? 

Facebook went down when their DNS server disconnected from their site. Image Source: Business Insider

While there is still much to be investigated, the initial findings are that Facebook’s DNS server was no longer connected to their site. What does this mean? Well, DNS is essentially the tool that connects your domain (aka your URL) to your website. It’s what makes your site viewable to the public, because it acts as a telephone line of sorts. So, basically, Facebook’s line went down. 

In general, when one of these telephone lines goes down, parts of the site may still be accessible, but when all of them go down, the entire site may become disconnected. This typically does not involve any data loss, but it can impact your bottom line if customers can’t make purchases or inquiries.

What This Means For You

What Can We Take Away From the Facebook Shutdown? 

office supplies on a desk next to the words :"what have we learned?"
Businesses can learn a lot from what happened to Facebook. Image Source: SEI

A lot of people are now left wondering what lessons they need to take away from this. We have a few key observations that could be useful. 

  • Give Your Agency Access. If you work with a web design agency like Responsival, make sure your agency has access to your DNS records and other key accounts by providing them login information and updating them any time it changes. Your agency should be able to resolve DNS issues efficiently provided they have the information they need to get it done.
  • Evaluate how your company stores files and data. What would happen if one day, one system was shut down or one drive was wiped? Would you be able to retrieve everything? Think of your business’ files like cherished family photos: protect them. 
  • Don’t buy into the doom and gloom. At this time, what happened does not seem to be a malicious attack, just a simple (if massive) mistake. All the theories floating around right now about what happened or what it means, are for now just speculation. Social media marketing is still a great way to get the word out about your business. It’s still okay to share things with your friends and post your photos. What happened was scary, but it’s not the end of the world.
  • Realize mistakes are easy to make. No one is perfect– if you’ve been managing your website on your own without the help of a trained, experienced web design agency, it’s possible you could make a mistake, too. Maybe you won’t take down a major social networking platform, but you could impact your bottom line. Some agencies, like ours, will even consider starting contracts to manage updates for sites they didn’t build. Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable, but having a team of experts on your side can help. 
  • Ask for help. It’s possible that the way platforms operate will change as a result of this shutdown. This could impact the way your company’s social media marketing strategy works. If you’re not sure how to adjust to these potential changes, it may be worth starting to work with a digital marketing agency like ours. When you work with a team of marketing professionals, remember that they are constantly researching industry trends and gaining experience, not just from you, but their other clients as well. 
  • Understand that trends are fleeting. Within minutes of the shutdown, people flocked to the remaining networks like Tiktok and Twitter. Some people even joked about signing up for Myspace and Tumblr again for the first time in years. As it turned out, it wasn’t actually necessary to revisit these sites, (even though it might have been fun), but the fact that so many people did shows that they aren’t as loyal to these sites–or any other trends–as we thought they were. Staying on top of those trends can help your brand’s marketing strategy stay competitive. 
  • Realize that time is of the essence. Not just for fixing issues, but for responding to the world around you. Many brands seized the opportunity to make sales, products, or witty jokes. Anyone who made one after Facebook was back up missed that moment and seemed behind. Having a proactive account management team and staying actively engaged with your client success manager can help you seize your brand’s moment, too. 
  • Have a backup plan. When Facebook shut down, a lot of people realized that they didn’t have a backup plan. They couldn’t do the Instagram live they planned weeks ago. Their ad wouldn’t start when they wanted it. They didn’t have a way to message that guy who lived down the hall from them in college who had a really good buffalo chicken dip recipe (and you never know when you’ll need that). Your marketing plan should include multiple ways to engage with your customers. Not just multiple platforms, but multiple methods. Do you have an email marketing strategy? Do you have a chat feature on your site? Are you running Google ads? Having a diverse marketing strategy is important all the time, not just during a crisis. 

The bottom line is: everything is okay. There are some great lessons we can take away from what happened to help us grow–both personally and professionally. So while the stress of knowing your mom can post embarrassing baby photos again may be back, you can take a deep breath knowing that everything (else) is going to be alright. The internet is always changing, so events like this are bound to happen. And while we can’t stop things from changing, a digital marketing agency like Repsonsival can help you navigate the landscape as it does.

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