On October 4th, 2021, Facebook, Instagram, and their sister messaging platform, WhatsApp, shut down across the world. It lasted for six hours and was the most significant shut down since their 2019 outage – which lasted 24 hours.
While many of us may have missed out on scrolling or sending a few WhatsApp messages, small businesses were hardest hit, who rely on these platforms as their storefronts, and often, sole generators for their income. A wide range of Canadian businesses use these platforms, including influencers, artists, retail shops, entertainment brands, real estate, and management companies. Over 3 million companies worldwide rely on Facebook for advertisement.
TIME Magazine revealed that none of the businesses they spoke to about the shutdown received any communication from the social media platforms with guidance, time frames, or what to do.
An outage like this, which was completely out of the businesses’ control, resulted in huge profit loss, frustration, and unwarranted stress. Toronto based company Joliette shared that the inability to reach customers outside of the platform was the worst part, a concern shared by many other Canadian companies.
Multiple companies shared their feelings of being “hostages" to these third-party platforms.
If anything, the outage can be looked at as an opportunity for Canadian businesses to diversify their revenue platforms.
For Canadian companies, other tangible social media platforms offer a massive market for amplifying sales like Pinterest, where 85% of customers say they buy from a brand after seeing it pinned, to TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and even Twitter.
Many brands use Facebook or Instagram as their storefront, so making the move to an alternate storefront such as Amazon Marketplace or Shopify, is an imperative move, too. Depending on the size of the business, creating an app can be a great way to drive sales with potentially full ownership over the platform.
In terms of advertising, Google Ad leads the market, making it a safe move to include Google ads in addition or instead of Facebook/Instagram.
A genuine connection with consumers is paramount to any business’s success. A weekly email newsletter, text updates, or a weekly podcast is a creative way to connect and advertise, and can lead to greater customer communication and integration, ideally leading to sales.
Taking advantage of these new platforms is not too big of a learning curve and doesn't require dramatic scaling-up. For those looking to sell a business associated with technology, diversifying your customer outreach through multiple platforms before the sale is an attractive strategy. The larger your customer base, the more chance your business has to grow and reach future targets.
As business becomes increasingly digitized, companies that operate within the technology and media sector pose significant opportunity for potential buyers. However, ensure that you conduct significant research on the potential for these types of disruptions, and how they will affect the business. Included in this due diligence, investigate whether the business has a multi-platform customer base.