Social Media Outage: How FaceBook, Instagram & WhatsApp Went Inaccessible Without Warning

How the Outage Has Implications Extending Beyond The Average Social Media User

When users first reported seeing error messages across Facebook’s apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp at 11:40am Monday morning, no one expected an outage of over 5 hours to begin. Eventually, apps started to gradually come back to functionality, however this outage showed just how dependent the world has become on such platforms. At first, people turned to Twitter and Tiktok to make jokes about these apps being down, however as time passed it became a real issue to many who rely on social media accounts for business.

With Facebook already facing criticism for Frances Haugen, former product manager releasing research regarding Facebook knowing the harms their platforms can have on society, this further angered the public. Now with infrastructure responsible for coordinating traffic between its data centers being interrupted and cascaded to other data centers, the servers were immediately brought to a halt. One of the largest groups affected however was businesses operated through Facebook, as they were blindsided as to the outage and were given no reassurance as to when the sites would be back online.

With the COVID-19 pandemic giving influencer marketing an unbelievably important role in online sales, influencers were at a loss of words during the outage. Many influencers took to TikTok and Twitter to share their concerns for Facebook’s unreliability, as the platforms that allowed them to build a career for themselves unexpectedly shut down with no warning. One of the most popular grilling accounts on TikTok Matt Groark (@Groarkboysbbq) was one such participant, as can be seen in his video linked here.

Expanding past influencer marketing, many businesses use Facebook’s apps to communicate with customers, conduct outreach and further make online sales. With Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp out, businesses were scrambling for an alternative way of conducting business. Whether it be in the clothing, food or professional gaming industry, everyone was affected. Those businesses who heavily relied on Facebook and Instagram were unable to reach customers, and suffered incredible losses in sales despite only being offline for just over 5 hours. Businesses which relied on WhatsApp were typically those in the culinary field, which was used to take orders from customers and contact them upon delivery. Another result of the pandemic was the rising popularity of professional video game players, many of which use Facebook Gaming as their sole source of income, causing frustration and fear that another outage could result in drastic consequences for them.

Additionally, the system outage further affected Facebook employees due to their internal communications platform Workplace being non-functional as well. Here their security systems, scheduling tools, internal calendars as well as means of communicating with other employees and clients were rendered ineffective. 

To make matters worse, Facebook also has become the main login criteria for many unrelated apps and services. This included smart TV sign-in, shopping websites and any other internet-connected devices partnered with Facebook. With the sudden outage accompanied with limited knowledge of how Facebook can prevent an event like this from happening again, businesses have realized that having such a dependence on a site like this while being an enormous opportunity to grow their brand, can encounter the occasional problem as well.

CHANGES IN SOCIAL MEDIA SITES: THE EVOLUTION OF STORIES

Instagram and TikTok are their hoping new features will help spur higher engagement for influencer and brand’s social media profiles

In 2013, social media platform Snapchat implemented the idea of disappearing stories, which has since become a very mainstream feature in the social media industry. Since then, industry giants such as Instagram have added a story feature to their platform, which allows users to post a story for their followers to see for 24 hours before it is no longer visible.

Instagram stories have become one of the more popular aspects of the site, however companies and influencers realized the potential these stories can have on raising brand awareness as well as directing traffic to a website. One of the most important features Instagram has allowed in stories has been swipe-up links, which allows users to share external links in the frames of their stories. Most recently, Instagram has announced that they are doing away with swipe up links and replacing them with a linked Sticker option. 

This transition from swipe-up links to a linked sticker provides several advantages for both influencers as well as companies who are looking to draw traffic to their own website. From an influencer standpoint, the sticker allows for much more creativity, as the sticker’s size, style and placement is now at the discretion of the user. Social media expert Matt Navarra believes that this will result in influencers being able to maximize the story’s impact through this added creative opportunity when drafting Instagram stories. 

Navarra also has expressed that the sticker provides further engagement in comparison to a swipe-link, as it allows story viewers to give slide-up reactions. Previously stories with a swipe-up link prevented story viewers from doing quick responses or reactions with the post. Now however with the link being in a sticker, viewers now have the ability to swipe-up with quick responses, furthering audience engagement for influencers. 

As of right now, the linked sticker option is only available for verified users or users with over 10,000 followers. The goal is to eventually allow all accounts to have access to this feature, however with concerns regarding users potentially using this feature to spread false information, Instagram has decided to gradually make this feature available for the general population of the app’s users. 

With stories being such a successful feature on platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, the newest dominant social media platform TikTok has just announced their launch of a story feature as well. Similar to other platforms, this story feature allows influencers to share short clips/videos that will disappear 24 hours after being posted. TikTok has become arguably the best platform for social media marketing since it’s explosion of popularity in 2020, and they believe this new feature will help further fan engagement between influencers and their audience. As of right now, TikTok is currently testing stories outside of the United States, however look for this feature to become a large part of social media marketing in the US soon.

DIGITAL RENEGADE STAR MARIYAH MAY (@MOOYAHYAH) FEATURED IN WSJ

The Social Media sensation appeared in a video article on how the pandemic is changing packages

Digital Renegade Mariyah May, aka mooyayah, is one of the most beloved lifestyle and comedic influencers on TikTok. Her content ranges from cosmetic videos such as makeup and nails, to comedy skits, art, and everything in between.

With her wide range of content, Mariyah has amassed 5M followers on TikTok including more than 240M likes. Most recently, her audio was used in Shelby Holliday’s video for the Wall Street Journal, which discusses the effects the pandemic has had on the shipped package industry.

As has been seen across social media, recently many people have been receiving products they ordered online in a much larger box than what is necessary, to which many find is very wasteful. Shelby takes a deeper dive into the reasons behind this mysterious pattern, and uses Mariyah’s audio to express the feeling one might have when receiving a larger than necessary package.

See the WSJ video here, and Mariyah’s original TikTok here!

The cause of this is due to the spike in e-commerce retailers experienced during the pandemic. With people confined to their homes, everyone turned to online shopping for goods, whether that be cleaning supplies, clothing, makeup or items to improve their home. As a result, cardboard boxes were in extremely high demand, causing the prices of cardboard boxes for retailers to soar. Now, companies are looking to accelerate and optimize their packaging and shipping costs.

Here are some of the changes in packaging you may notice in the future:

  1. More Mailers – These are lighter than cardboard boxes, cheaper, and easier to pack. They additionally are much easier to recycle.
  2. Minimization of Boxes – Companies are shifting toward Amazon’s “Frustration Free Packaging” technique. They are hoping to stray away from shipping boxes inside of boxes as it is sent from the manufacturer to the retailer through offering third parties incentives for being more efficient with her packaging. This also helps the retailer save money, however will not affect the prices of the products you order.
  3. Skip the Shipping – Many sites are pushing customers to travel to the store to pick up their order as opposed to having the products shipped to the buyer. They often incentivize this by offering coupons or even discounts. This further has led to many companies partnering with Happy Returns, which allows consumers to drop goods off without being packaged, which has led to a drastic increase in returns.

So now comes the big question: how will retailers make the unboxing experience exciting with no box? A huge trend throughout social media has been influencers unboxing products from certain companies, and sharing with their followers an honest review on the product. 

Unboxing content not only helps grow an influencer’s audience as well as engagement, but further allows retailers to advertise their products to a wide audience in a more genuine and authentic way as opposed to commercials.

While retailers are moving towards a more efficient as well as environmentally friendly way of packaging goods, it’s going to be interesting to see how they will take action to further improve the unboxing experience so many look forward to in anticipation of a delivered package. Industry leaders such as Amazon are leading the charge with some of the techniques described above, and it will be interesting to see how their packaging continues in the future. 

What is the new reality post Pandemic for creators and brands?

Wow, what an insane and completely unexpected implosion the pandemic has been in the world of social media influence. Prior to the pandemic, social media was part of the marketing mix for most brands, from start-ups to the top 5 brands in each industry. With the total collapse of the retail infrastructure as we knew it, and the majority of the population being quarantined in one way or another, direct to consumer (D2C) became everyone’s go to. And with this paradigm shift, so did the valuation of content creators and how they had massive influence over their followers.

This influence was created and executed in various manners from branding, whether that was by selling, sending followers to a website to gain educational information, and many other ways as well. But what was clear on zoom calls all over the country between clients and agencies was the urgency to improve upon their influencer and affiliate marketing machine. Most companies had minimal infrastructure and vision for how the pandemic was going to change everyone’s reality. Out of the murky bog came a lot of companies that created CRM based aggregators of influencers. Many had outdated information, fees and contact information, but even the ones that were selling quality data didn’t see the explosion of representation firms signing creators at a record pace. From your largest of representation firms like CAA and WME to United Talent and others to the boutique shops like The Digital Renegades and CEG. The race was on for talent, and everyone was in the pool!

This was a seminal point in the evolution of influencers gaining corporate acceptance as well as fair compensation. Previously only influencers such as the Kardashians and Jenners got paid a fair wage, but now creators with 100,000 followers and above can make a living or a healthy side hustle.  Agents brought legitimacy to the time, effort and creativity the creators brought to developing their content. Previously, brands saw athletes and celebrities as their big ticket spokespeople. But with the closing of arenas, movie theaters and production studios, the brands were forced to reassess how they viewed creators. Creators no longer were talked about like indentured servants, but instead were viewed as valuable assets in marketing and selling products.

Creator Sonny Hurrell’s (@thatdudecancook) collaboration with Kingsford

Home delivery exploded: Instacart, Blue Apron, Thrive Market and so many others knocked on our doors. They wanted creators to be salespeople, and candidly it usually didn’t work. Not based on the fee that was being changed.  But here is what else we found out, brands offering creators codes to highlight and earn commissions was a fairytale! There is ZERO way to gauge true attribution from a creator. You can’t add it up in sales because most people (more than 80%) do not use codes, so the concept of “testing” an influencer was so flawed and the brands knew it. Just because a creator has millions of followers or even hundreds of thousands of followers, there is still no guarantee that in one post a large percentage of these consumers will buy. The notion of one call closing is so contradictory to where the actual market currently resides.

Consumers want proof, education, great prices and the feeling they aren’t being sold. Well, tell that to the agencies that are pumping out creator campaigns like puppy mills! It’s really depressing that agencies are making sure they get paid, and blaming creators for their lack of vision. Is this all agencies? Of course not, but a majority are burning and churning clients during the pandemic. They keep selling brands on their data collection and the discounted fees they can get on influencer fees. But what I tell everyone still is “you get what you pay for ” in this and every business.  

So the pandemic at worst was a forced education for everyone involved. Talent agents, influencers, brands, agencies, etc. We all had a good year to better understand what the circumstances are and how do we collectively navigate the landscape? Now with large numbers of Americans being vaccinated, what is next? How does this infrastructure morph into the next stage?

Let’s take a look at a few realities:

  1. Social media usage will drop this Spring and Summer. Why? People are on the loose.   The increase in sales at places like Dick’s Sporting Goods shows that the consumer is feeling free to get out and explore. Outdoor experiences, AirBnB is seeing a massive rise in bookings, airlines are adding planes to their markets for the first time in years. All of this push to do things vs watch others do things will lead to a significant drop in viewership. This drop will just make dealing with creators that actually produce great engagement to be more expensive. Supply and demand folks! 
  2. Brands will start pulling back experimental social media funds from social media campaigns to in store and on site activations. Sponsorships will take off.  Concerts, trade shows, etc.
  3. Influencers will start to be utilized as a way to augment retail promotions and drive traffic in-store, not just to D2C channels.
  4. Influencers will start to diversify their content as they too can get out of the house. So social media influencers, let’s say who previously focused on food, now will add new content such as travel, lifestyle and beauty content. 
  5. New platforms will likely not have as much success as the meteoric rise of TikTok because of the pandemic.
  6. Video content will now evolve to live streams. So platforms like YouTube and Twitch will benefit greatly.

The world of social media never stops changing because the consumer clamors for more and greater connection with those that they follow and idolize. The bar will be pushed to an even higher level. Brands need to be even more creative on how they gain attention by the consumer.   Education will always be a focal point for many brands but especially the emerging all-natural, organic and plant based lines of food. 

If you are an emerging brand or a historic one, let the experts at CelebExperts and The Digital Renegades help brainstorm your future.  Our collaborative DNA and desire to help you achieve your ultimate goals and beyond is our only objective. Contact us at evan@celebexperts.com or christina@celebexperts.com for an immediate free consultation.  

ILANA MUHLSTEIN X AZUNA

The premier manufacturer of plant based nontoxic alternatives to odor elimination, Azuna has gone all in with Ilana Muhlstein vesting in the Company and becoming it’s global spokesperson. Muhlstein, a mom, wife, entrepreneur and best-selling author has always advocated for moms to live happier and healthier lives with the mindset, tools and products they use. Finding Azuna, a product that works well and protects her children from harmful chemical sprays and dispensers, was the perfect fit for the mom of two on a mission.

Muhlstein sees Azuna as the clear choice for air fresheners, “I know how harmful unwanted chemicals can be especially around kids. When Azuna was introduced to me I couldn’t believe how good it smelled, and it truly eliminated odors in the kitchen, bathroom, closets, everywhere.  And it lasts for 60-90 days. That is an incredible value for your average family”. Azuna is also anti-microbial which cleans and neutralizes air against mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria. And maybe best of all, it’s pure and natural because it has no harmful additives or chemicals. 

Azuna started  in 2019 and was founded by Scott Dancy who was looking for a way to get bad odors out of his laundry room. He partnered with a company that made cleaning products and developed Azuna. Scott realized the power and long lasting nature of the product and the light bulb went off that everyone around the world needed a plant based product that was safe around kids and got rid of odors effectively and for up to 90 days.   

Scott Dancy, Azuna CEO sees Ilana as the perfect fit, “As a mom, an expert in healthy living and truly someone vested in helping others, we saw Ilana as an incredible partner and global spokesperson. We think the Company just found it’s missing piece”.

AZUNA is the leading plant based product specializing in odor elimination at the source. Based and manufactured In Buffalo, NY we are proud to be an American made company

ILANA MUHLSTEIN, M.S., R.D.N. is one of the most sought-after weight-loss and nutrition experts in the world. By the time Ilana was 13 years old, she weighed over 200 pounds and struggled with losing weight, emotional eating and diets that didn’t work. While most kids dream of becoming pop stars or famous athletes, Ilana’s early inspirations were the knowledgeable registered dietitians she met every summer at fat camp. She became an RD herself the first chance she got and used everything she learned to lose 100 pounds. Since then, she’s made it her life’s mission to help people live happier and healthier lives.

With a thriving private practice in Beverly Hills, she is an acclaimed public speaker and influencer, published bestselling author, and sits on the prestigious Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association. Ilana has been lecturing for the Bruin Health Improvement Program at UCLA since 2013 and is a contributing writer for distinguished publications including The Journal of Obesity, and has been featured in the LA Times, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, SHAPE, Health and Women’s Health. With a social media following of over 1.8 million people (@nutritionbabe on TikTok and @ilanamuhlsteinrd on Instagram), Ilana’s life goal is to help as many people as she can. Ilana lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Noah and two children, Olivia and Julian.