What can we learn from the Facebook outage?

So – you might have noticed that Facebook experienced some technical difficulties this week.

For around six hours, the Facebook empire went dark. Users from around the globe were unable to access Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

Millions of error reports were sent, group chats fell silent, and influencers were left with nowhere to post photos of their meals. 

However, apart from Facebook itself, advertisers arguably felt the largest impact from the blackout – campaigns were forced to pause, and social feeds were frozen.

It was a bit chaotic, to say the least.

But what caused this social media meltdown? And more importantly, what lessons can advertisers learn from this disruption to their campaigns? Let’s take a closer look. 

What caused the outage?

Facebook claims that the outage was caused by a faulty configuration change. 

In simpler terms, the Facebook servers were disrupted by a network issue, meaning they were unable to communicate properly. This network issue ultimately began a domino effect, which eventually caused the mass outages. 

Facebook will undoubtedly release more details about the incident in the coming days, but in the meantime, we know what you’re really wondering…

How did this impact advertisers and campaigns?

It’s no secret that Facebook is a hugely important element of marketing strategies across the globe. 

Millions of advertisers run their campaigns through both Facebook and Instagram – and millions also use these platforms to connect and communicate with their customers. So it’s understandable that this disruption has caused a bit of panic and confusion. 

Let’s run through some of the major impacts of the outage, and how Facebook is dealing with them.

1. Ad campaigns being delayed or paused

One of the more obvious effects of the outage was disruption caused to ad campaigns. 

With all platforms down, many advertisers were left wondering what was happening to their activity and their budgets.

Facebook has clarified that ads were not being delivered across any of the platforms during the blackout, and so nothing will be billed for this period. 

It might come as a relief that no ads were served to empty platforms during the outage (phew) but Facebook has advised that advertisers review their bids and budgets to ensure that delivery aligns with marketing objectives.

For some advertisers, delivery may need to be accelerated to account for the incident.

2. Appeals and review processes being slowed 

If you were waiting for an ad or commerce listing to be approved, you might experience a bit of a delay here! 

Although Facebook automates many of these processes, some requests are still reviewed manually, meaning teams were unable to check ads and listings during the outage.

3. Pixel and conversion optimisations being disrupted

Events sent via Facebook pixels or the Conversions API were not received during the outage. 

This might cause a bit of a headache for advertisers using these events for optimisations, measurement, or Custom Audiences. 

The good news is that advertisers can choose to re-send any missed events via the Conversion API, so these can still be utilised for optimisations and tracking. The bad news is that the same can’t be said for Facebook pixel events.

4. Customer support being obstructed

Brands who rely heavily on social platforms for customer support faced a lot of frustration during the outage. 

There may be a backlog of customer messages and requests which support teams will need to deal with. Unfortunately there isn’t a workaround here – but hopefully most users will recognise that the fault was a technical one, unrelated to the brands and businesses themselves.

What can we learn from this? 

So – clearly the outage wasn’t ideal for advertisers. 

But what can we learn from this incident moving forward?

Well, the first lesson to accept is that these things happen sometimes. Advertisers need to place a lot of trust in various different platforms, channels and systems to keep their campaigns running. Sometimes things will go wrong. It’s inevitable.

Try not to panic too much. Reassure and communicate with your social customer base as much as possible, and crack on with your daily business!

However, there’s also a bigger lesson in all of this. Diversification is super important when you’re a digital advertiser.

Because things will inevitably go wrong sometimes, it’s good to invest in different platforms and work with different partners. 

Not only does this help with damage control when the worst happens, but it also opens up new audiences, formats, and marketing opportunities.

Don’t put all of your advertising eggs in one basket. These mammoth platforms are great for marketing, no doubt – but they’re not immune to mistakes and issues.

Maintain a balanced digital strategy, and you’re less likely to tear your hair out when a server crashes. 

So, that’s just about everything. If you were inconvenienced by the outage, try to take these lessons on board and move forward with your social activity. For any major problems or urgent issues, get in touch with Facebook support or your normal account team. 

Best of luck!


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