3 Learnings from the Massive Facebook Outage

Ty Kiser
October 15, 2021

Last week, the Facebook empire made massive headlines — and it isn’t because Farmville is making a comeback.

According to Facebook, they had a problem with “configuration changes on the backbone routers,” which left billions of people without Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The social media platforms were down for about six hours.

Before we get into some of the details and implications, if you haven’t seen some of the amazing memes that came from the whole ordeal, allow me to show you. 

While I was sitting at the computer working on some non-Facebook-related tasks during the outage, I was curious about the digital marketing implications. After pondering this for a bit, I realized there are three main takeaways that I learned as a digital marketer.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Facebook is an amazing place to advertise. At any given moment, you can reach more than 3 billion people through Facebook or Instagram. Brands can see a massive return on investment, and the platform’s ability to drive results is a really great way to reach quality traffic.

The problem is that when Facebook shuts down, the rest of the world does too. As marketers, sometimes things beyond our control happen and we have to make pivots in our strategy. But if you only are prepared to advertise on one platform, those six hours can be problematic for your campaign, especially if you’re trying to get a message out quickly. 

Look at ways you can drive your digital marketing to other places outside of your normal platforms. Advertising on Google Ads is a great way to reach users. Using several social media platforms can also drive awareness and reach different audiences that will interact with your brand in different ways. Ultimately, putting all your eggs in Facebook’s basket led to many companies missing out on valuable ad time. Facebook itself lost $313 million from ad revenue alone and lost $5.9 billion from stocks dropping during the outage. That is definitely not a place where you’d want all your eggs. 

2. Keep it simple.

During this outage, there was one massive winner: Twitter!

As billions of people were without Facebook and Instagram, everyone flooded to Twitter. Twitter noticed, and promptly responded with a beautifully simple tweet:


This single tweet got thousands of retweets, comments, and 3.3 million likes. Twitter pretty much had the whole world’s attention, and it needed to use the moment wisely. They could have written a heartfelt message in support of Facebook. They could have roasted Facebook for being down, but instead they decided to just say hello to literally everyone. I personally think this was the best thing to say. We don’t always have to overthink our strategies and make messaging super complex — sometimes a simple hello will do.

3. Take advantage of the opportunity.

Just as Twitter took advantage of the Facebook outage to say a simple hello, other brands decided to leverage the opportunity as well. The memes that circled around Twitter were fantastic, but what was even better was the brands that commented on Twitter’s hello tweet. There were a ton of great replies from brands, but I’ll just share a few of my favorites.

McDonald’s used the exact same wording that people all over the world have heard every time they interact with a McDonald’s establishment. (Twitter’s response? “59.6 million nuggets for my friends.”) 

Here, we see Instagram poking fun at itself. Sometimes as a brand, you can’t take yourself so seriously. Bonus points to Instagram for being relevant to the outage and the classic “Mondays are terrible” opinions. 

For Sony, this was the perfect response to this opportunity. This classic Spiderman-pointing-at-Spiderman meme was such a great way to take a popular Sony asset and apply it to the situation.

Facebook had a rough day. A really rough day. But your marketing didn’t have to suffer because Facebook did. Diversifying your advertising plan can keep you from missing out of valuable traffic. When you have a moment to shine, keep it simple. Don’t get wrapped up in the words and spotlight, sometimes a simple hello will do. And when the moment presents itself, take advantage of the opportunity by using your brand’s messaging to increase awareness and perception of your brand.

Of course, if you ever need help navigating social advertising, we are here to help!