Where is everyone?

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How to respond to those pesky platform outages.

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Experiencing an interruption on the web or through a social platform can be unexpected, frustrating, maybe even embarrassing. (Is it me? Do I have a bad connection?) When technology is built so seamlessly into our daily lives and routines, an outage can seem incomprehensible and interrupt regular business operations. (But I can always get onto Instagram! What do you mean I can’t send the files?)

Inevitably, they happen anyway.

The site Down for Everyone or Just Me is one way to find out if, well, there’s an outage for others or just you. For a bigger picture of the ups and downs of the Internet, Down detector (which cleverly describes itself as “the weatherman for the digital world”) monitors social media and user reports to track outages and services.

Once you’ve confirmed it really isn’t you, what do you do when you find yourself unexpectedly without social media? What do you think your followers do?

The good news for publishers is that without Facebook to scroll through, hunting for information or a distraction, readers often head to mobile news apps and sites, according to data from Chartbeat. This offers positive insight into understanding user habits and interests: “Despite volatility driven by algorithm shifts and intense news cycles, user demand for content (represented by traffic across the web) is quite stable.”

However, in analyzing a YouTube outage, the results were a little different and led to an even bigger boost to traffic elsewhere. Chartbeat considered this might have come down to everything from the platform to users to the time of day.

“So far, we’ve seen there’s no single reaction when a platform goes down. Sometimes people are more apt to search for answers, sometimes they go directly to a news source they trust,” research posted on the Chartbeat blog concluded. “The one thing we do see is that when Facebook or YouTube goes dark, the rest of the internet comes alive.”

Knowing how an outage on one site can lead to an influx on another is a good reminder to stay active across your relevant platforms. However, there’s more to do if you hope to keep your content relevant and seen-after all, an outage means it doesn’t really matter if you scheduled that post or not. So plan ahead and plan for all scenarios.

Use working social media to engage in social listening. You can interact with followers to let them know you are in this outage with them, that your other sites are still up and working, and the status of your services. Keep other channels of communication open and easily accessible, and be ready to jump in to say everything is back up.

Additionally, it’s also an opportunity to consider if you are on the right platform. Sometimes, there’s no better solution than a strong email list.

“Should you join another social channel?” Monina Wagner, Content Marketing Institute’s community manager, encouraged marketers to ask themselves in an interview with Marketing Land. “Could you beef up your email list? Social media is rented land. What would happen if that disruption turned into a complete shutdown? Would you have another platform for your community?”

On the technical side, remember to keep track of your campaigns and files—save, save, save. If you anticipate something isn’t working right, screenshot whatever information you’re worried about losing in the event of an outage. There’s big business in Facebook and Instagram ads, but you can reschedule and have the advantage that Facebook charges advertisers based on results, like impressions and conversions, which can only be gained if the site has users on it.

An outage is annoying, but it can be a chance for discovery and, perhaps, some needed time to unplug and refocus.

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