At 4.50PM last night social media users across the globe were plunged into darkness as Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram all suddenly froze. The Facebook owned apps, which all run on shared infrastructure, had gone down. 

Inevitably, social media users turned to Twitter to share their reaction. The social giants, who were understandably smug about the situation welcomed these users in huge numbers as they fired out a tongue-in-cheek tweet which said, ‘Welcome, literally everyone’.

But, as some people held this social blackout in jest, others were led to a stark realisation that their entire marketing strategy is hinged upon one, seemingly unsteady, platform.

The six hour long outage reportedly saw $7billion wiped from it’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerbergs’ net worth and, with no access to their own platforms, Facebook themselves were forced to take to twitter to tell users, “To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us; we’re sorry.”

What some users labelled, ‘a welcome break’ from social media, others were forced to refer to as a wake-up call.

PR and Social Media Expert, Laura Robinson, said, “The near complete social blackout has forced a lot of people to re-evaluate their marketing strategy. Too many people rely on Facebook’s owned platforms which, at the end of the day, are out of their own control.”

She told us, “When these platforms went down many brands were simply left voiceless. That’s because they have hinged their entire marketing strategy upon a Facebook and Instagram page and it’s not sustainable. This really highlighted how important it is to be self-sufficient and invest in self-owned platforms such as blogs, websites and an email marketing strategy.”

While many brands were left losing money on Facebook and Instagram ads that were suddenly yielding no results, others took this moment to show that despite the outage, they could still communicate with customers by utilising their other platforms.

Immediately after these sites went down, American fast fashion retailer, Fashion Nova, fired out a text to its’ customers which read, ‘Instagram down!!! Only thing working right now is our website… GO GO GO!!’.

This reactive text, not only received acclaim on twitter with many users discussing how the brand’s stellar marketing strategy had seized this moment to capture audiences, but also sent a message to Fashion Nova’s competitors that said, social media or not, we’re still a giant of the fast fashion industry.

Many twitter users posed the question as to why other brands hadn’t adopted the same approach and shown themselves as reactive to this situation.

The simple answer being because many brands don’t have the assets to do so. As a business if you haven’t diversified your exposure, last night your brand simply disappeared for a while.

Social media is a great marketing tool and beyond useful to brands who successfully leverage these platforms to get  users on their email and SMS marketing lists.

But what last night’s outage proved was that social media should be supplemental to your marketing approach, not your entire strategy.