How the Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp Outage Hurt Small Businesses

Brief Summary
  • The Facebook empire, including Instagram and WhatsApp,   had an outage on a global scale for six hours.
  • Due to the prolonged period of time that these social media apps were not available, many small businesses were financially impacted.
  • The social media outage turned out to be a wake-up call for numerous small business owners. Many small business owners are choosing not to heavily rely solely on social media to serve their customers and set up other forms of connectivity like a business website and email list.
  • The recent global outage was the longest outage duration for Facebook since 2008.

On October 5, 2021, a global outage took place for Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp that caused the tech giant’s market value to drop by $40 billion. This outage lasted for nearly six hours, causing Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth to decrease roughly $7 billion. 


The recent global outage was the longest outage duration for Facebook since 2008. In 2008, Facebook was down for about half a day, causing 80 million users to be disconnected from the popular social media site. Today, Facebook has more than 3 billion social media users.


Although the outage affected Zuckerberg’s net worth, many small business owners worldwide were also negatively impacted. Due to a heavy reliance on social media, small business owners suffered a tremendous financial loss due to the Facebook and Instagram outage. 


What caused the global outage?


The outage was caused by the tech giant’s global data center when a routine maintenance check caused an unforeseen error which caused Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to be disconnected. Facebook is the parent company of both Instagram and WhatsApp, so when Facebook servers were down, so were the servers for Instagram and WhatsApp. 



Image Credit: Shutterstock


Although Facebook has a “fail-safe” plan in place if a data error happens, the fail-safe plan had also encountered a technical bug, rendering it ineffective, which caused the global outage. 


How did the globe outage affect small businesses?


Many small business owners use social media platforms as a way to connect with their audience. According to Statista, Facebook and Instagram are among the most used social media platforms around the world. 


Millions of small businesses rely on social media platforms with easy-to-use services like built-in buttons to capture photos and videos in real-time to promote their business. However, with Instagram and Facebook being off the grid for a quarter of the day, small companies could not generate revenue from their customers because no one was able to access the platforms.



Image Credit: PixieMe - stock.adobe.com


As small business owners rely on social media to connect with loyal and potential customers to promote their products and services, the lack thereof made it difficult for small businesses to generate profit for the better of a business day. This shows how reliant small business owners are on large social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to help reach a larger audience.


What does the global outage mean for the tech giant, Facebook, moving forward?


Successful entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk follow the proverb, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This quote means that when one puts all of their resources (eggs) in one place or service (basket), they rely on that place or service to do the heavy lifting for them. 


While there are major pros, there are also cons to relying on other companies to reach and communicate with your audience or customers, and it can prove to be detrimental for small businesses. In addition, once the large company that the small business is relying on hits a bump in the road, their resources will be heavily affected. 


The outage has helped small businesses learn that they can’t rely on social media alone to reach customers and share their products and services. Numerous small business owners, such as Delyanne Barros, shared their thoughts on the social media outage. “Today’s Instagram outage should be a reminder that you need to build your email list. Email marketing is extremely powerful & you actually own those contacts.” 


The series of events caused by Facebook indicates the heavy reliance of small businesses on social media. Small business owners have gradually diversified their reach by building their email list, creating their website, and connecting with clientele via phone, email, and direct mailers. In addition, small businesses must focus on building relationships in their local communities, which will, in turn, increase foot traffic and lead to higher sales.


Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Facebook engineering team released a lengthy statement apologizing for the outage and ensuring that the team works around the clock to prevent another major outage. Though Facebook has taken extreme measures to ensure another outage doesn’t happen, it was a good reminder for small businesses to build outside of someone else’s platform. 


What are your thoughts on the Facebook outage, and do you think that small businesses are too reliant on social media? Let us know in the comments below.

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