Facebook went down today, along with Instagram and Whatsapp. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last.
It attracted the predictable rush of posts on Twitter and LinkedIn about how you shouldn’t rely too heavily on one platform. That you shouldn’t build your house on rented land. (Irony alert about posting this stuff on other platforms, of course).
I saw myself in some of those warnings. I’ve made them. I still believe it idealistically.
But it got me thinking about the insane disruption that was occurring to businesses around the world today. I consider myself lucky that this was only a normal day for me, not one I’ve had circled on the calendar as a pivotal point in my business.
Scheduled posts and planned announcements were disrupted. You had plans. Your business has numbers to hit. Facebook drives traffic and revenue that you rely on. Stopped.
Customer support was disrupted. This is how people communicate now. They want to chat. They use your Messenger integration. They go to your Facebook page or Instagram account. They wanted answers. You couldn’t provide them.
Facebook ads to promote a client’s product were put on pause. You may be spending $10 or $100,000 per day. You spend that budget for a reason. Now, nothing.
This may have been an important day for a business. Building to this moment. I see myself in the position some of these businesses may have been today. I can only imagine the frustration if this were an important day.
And now… White screen.
Look, I’m one of the first to talk about not relying too heavily on a single platform. You shouldn’t have a business that’s built entirely inside of Facebook and relies only on Facebook. That gives Facebook far too much power. And you know that if Facebook ever goes down, like today, you’re screwed.
That’s the extreme of reliance on others. The extreme of business carelessness.
But, does today truly tell us we shouldn’t rely on other platforms? That we should own and control it all? How realistic is that??
Let’s be clear: We as a business community rely heavily on Facebook. But it’s not just Facebook. And we all rely on many things we don’t own.
You want to limit that reliance as much as possible. We don’t control what Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, or TikTok do. Whether it’s staying online or changing their business model.
But even if you run your business entirely through your own website and email list, you rely on things you don’t own. You rely on web hosting to keep your website up. You rely on the CRM to function when messaging your customers. You rely on the electricity and phones to work. You rely on the WiFi so that you can do… just about anything.
I rely on so many pieces of software running right now on my computer to run effectively, as I expect it to. If it doesn’t, my business is disrupted.
And you need Facebook, Twitter, and the many platforms that exist to work so that you can reach your customers in a wide variety of ways. We are all so reliant on others. It’s impossible to isolate business to what we fully own and control only.
And that, I guess, is the scary (and maybe beautiful?) part of business and life. We ultimately rely heavily on the support and operations of many, many others within our network to function.
It’s all sorta “ha ha ha very funny” to point at Facebook and laugh right now. But this just makes me think about those times when I’m giving a webinar and the internet goes out. Or sending an email to announce a product and the link doesn’t work. Or my website crashes because I didn’t pay enough for hosting.
Or any of the endless possibilities of things, software, and people that don’t work as I expect and business gets disrupted.
When it comes down to it, we lack basic control. We are at the mercy of so many different services, software, and people to execute on what we are trying to accomplish every day.
Should you own as much as you can and control as much as you can? Sure. But ultimately, you can’t run from the ultimate reliance on so many people, services, and things that can make everything stop at any moment.
That doesn’t make this chaos. There’s order. We all make strategic decisions about the software, services, and platforms we use. There are inherent risks in all of them. We mitigate those risks the best we can. We control what we can.
Beyond that, let it be. Throw up your hands. Go for a walk. Read a book. Drink a beer. It’s out of your control.
Embrace the chaos.