Instagram outage convinced small business owners they needed their own websites

Jewelry designer Alex Rankin sells 25 handmade rings on a busy day through her Instagram store, earning her just over $ 150. On Monday, with the social media giant down for hours, she didn’t sell anything.

“It was awful,” Rankin told BuzzFeed News.

From sponsored posts to Instagram’s storefront, various tools integrated with Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have been incorporated into business plans and budgets even for the smallest businesses. Small business owners were at the mercy of Facebook on Monday after a more than six-hour outage left some with no way to generate income or speak with customers. And after losing sales, business owners told BuzzFeed News it made them wonder how much they should rely on Facebook products.

“Without social media, I wouldn’t have a business,” said Rankin, 19. “This is how I advertise my rings and how I take my orders for the rings, and how I market my page.”

Since launching on Instagram two months ago, his Crafted by Alex business is completely platform-dependent, but the outage has prompted Rankin to embark on a longer-term strategy.

“I plan to have my own website soon so people can order it,” Rankin said. “I can’t control Instagram.”

The impact of the outage on businesses that use Facebook products has yet to be quantified, but early estimates of the cost to the social media giant put the losses at $ 100 million.

In response to the impact of the blackout on business owners, Instagram owner Facebook has apologized, but made no clear commitments on how it plans to rectify the losses and mitigate any future incidents.

“To all of those affected by our platform outages today: we are sorry,” a spokesperson for the Facebook company told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “We know that billions of people and businesses around the world depend on our products and services to stay connected. We thank you for your patience as we come back online.”

Daisey Miller, owner of a Sacramento-based holistic wellness center, described the “weird” moment when she noticed she couldn’t use her professional Instagram account.

“I realized how dependent we as small business owners are on connecting with our customers through Instagram,” Miller said.

Over the past three years, the platform has contributed immensely to the growth of her business, which includes yoga, nutrition counseling, and holistic beauty.

“Instagram is basically how I run my whole business, and I would say 95% to 99% of my customers are contacting me for the first time on Instagram,” said the 23-year-old.

She believes the outage could cost her hundreds of dollars in appointments and leads. It was also a sobering reminder that his company lacked independence from social media and the content creation factory that had grown its following.

“It made me realize that I needed to do more, and so it really pushed me to end up with a website, and I think I’m going to start a newsletter where people will give me their emails, even s. ‘they’re not my current clients,’ Miller said.

That’s exactly the advice Jess Sims, co-founder of Doers, a brand marketing agency, gave her clients stressed by the outage.

“We always recommend working with your brand’s channels, so things like your website, your email database,” Sims said. “These are people you can always count on, and you have complete control over them. “

Social media managers and digital marketers even found themselves the targets of memes as they rushed to respond to the outage.

Sims encouraged customers to take to Twitter to join the larger conversation, even for brands that weren’t used to using the microblogging platform for anything other than customer service.

“Last night it was about looking for them to see if there were any opportunities for them to react or to have a bit of a joke with someone else about the blackout or whatever it might be. educate them on the other channel. ”she said.

Except that it is much more difficult for a small business. Hamda Issa-Salwe, who runs Somali tea brand Ayeeyo’s Blends in the UK, told BuzzFeed News that she has remained calm and moved the content she had planned from Instagram to the Twitter page of the company, but it could not reach the same audience.

“Our follow-up is a 1 to 7 ratio from Twitter to Instagram. It’s seven times more important on Instagram, ”she said. Issa-Salwe said the blackout prompted her to look into a contingency plan on ways to diversify the scope of the business.

“I think, How many emails do we have? How many people have we subscribed?”Issa-Salwe said. “In case we want to launch something like a newsletter in the future.”

David Manshoory, co-founder and COO of Alleyoop, a beauty and body product company that first launched on Instagram, said that when the blackout hit, “I’m like, Thank goodness we are diverse.

Instead, the company sent a “Instagram may be down, but our site is not” promo code message via text and email to customers.

The company nevertheless felt a decline; Manshoory said sales were down about 10%.

“It proves that you can’t control everything, and it’s good that the business is growing on multiple legs instead of one,” he said.

And other small businesses are learning this lesson, quickly. Although the blackout hit the UK in the evening, Issa-Salwe said that was when most of its sales were made.

“I saw a drop in sales,” she said, “but interestingly enough, now that it’s brought back online today, we had a slight increase in sales earlier today.”

His suspicion? People were making up for lost time, spending Tuesday on Instagram to “catch up on everything they didn’t see yesterday.”

05 Oct 2021, 11:15 PM

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