If you felt any sense of panic during the Instagram and Facebook shut down that happened on Monday, October 4 2021 you aren’t alone. Not only did the outage cost these companies tens of millions of dollars, it created an uproar among small business owners who rely on social media to connect with clients, market their offers, and grow their brands. 

The blackout was a result of Facebook changing it’s routers. You can read more about the technical problems that caused the shutdown in this article, Why Facebook & Instagram went down for hours on Monday. 

This blackout proves what many brand strategists have been saying all along, it’s too risky to rely on social media to grow your business.

That’s the job of your brand.

Read on to discover the key takeaways from the shutdown.

As small business owners, we can learn 3 major things from these outages:

  1. We don’t own our social media profiles. 

Building your business foundation on Instagram or Facebook is unstable, illogical, and dangerous. While social media is an incredible supplement for marketing your services and advertising your products, business owners should not rely solely on these platforms. The blackout that happened on Monday reinforces this point. Zuckerberg doesn’t owe us anything. Our profiles on Facebook and Instagram are not paid for, and therefore the platforms can be shut down at any time, leaving small business owners with nothing to show for. Think of Instagram and Facebook as borrowed land. While it’s unlikely the platforms will disappear for good, it’s always a possibility. 

If you’re a business owner who relies exclusively on Instagram or Facebook to grow your business, this is your wake-up call. 

  1. The algorithm cares about money, not about you growing your business. 

Ahh yes the dreaded algorithm. All social media platforms have countless algorithms in place in order to optimize the viewer’s experience and sell to them. Facebook and Instagram make their money on paid ads, so they will always promote content that is most likely to capture user’s attention for long enough periods of time in order to sell to them. We all know how it feels to spend hours working on the perfect Instagram post, only to have the algorithm disappoint you in the number of followers it shows it to. When we keep in mind that social media platforms are big business, it makes it easier to understand why the algorithm is specific, finicky, and constantly evolving. It’s purpose is to get users to buy, not to help your business grow and thrive online. 

Creating a website and an email list is a great workaround if you’re tired of dealing with the unpredictable algorithm that makes your efforts feel futile. This is because they are predicable experiences. Unlike Instagram, where the algorithm might interfere with your audience seeing your newest post on their feed, an email list and website are guaranteed.  If you send an email to your audience, they will receive it. No algorithm is at play. If your audience clicks on your website or types in your domain, they enter a much more immerse, well-rounded experience that will encourage them to buy. 

  1. Selling on social media is not the easiest way to sell.

Social media is filled with distractions. There are millions of profiles competing for your audience’s attention at any given moment. Whether it’s ads that are trying to convince them to buy the latest gadget, or click-worthy notifications constantly popping up, it’s difficult to sustain your audience’s attention long enough to sell to them. Creating a brand and website makes it easier to serve your audience, tell them what you do, and sell your products or services. This is because a website should be a dynamic story that draws your potential buyers in and invites them to learn more. Instead of ending up on their best friend’s brother’s dog’s instagram account, they will end up scrolling your website and becoming more familiar with your brand. 

Marketing expert and 7-figure entrepreneur, Jenna Kutcher, explains this so well when she says that social media should be the handshake. It should serve as a touchpoint where your audience can get to know you and decide if you’re the solution to their problem. It’s our brands that are ultimately going to seal the deal. 

The Blackout of 2021 teaches us to not put all of our eggs in the proverbial social media basket. It’s unreliable nature, unpredictable algorithm, and multitude of distractions tell us that it’s not the most effective way to build a business. Instead, ensuring that your customer’s experience is stellar across all touchpoints, perhaps most importantly a website, is integral to scaling with ease.