Is it time to get off Facebook?

With two recent large scale outages, a reduction in the number of users, and an admission that businesses are no longer being prioritised in users newsfeeds, is it time for small businesses to look away from Facebook and find more reliable ways to speak to their customers?

When questioned about the mass outage in early October, Mark Zuckerberg reassured the public that they would easily recover any financial losses incurred as a result of the outage, and their advertisers would be able to catch up. Well, I was very pleased to hear that, but what about all the small businesses that rely entirely on Facebook to sell their products and services. I’m talking about the self employed dog walker, the cupcake maker, the hairdresser, the cafe, or the single mum that sells clothes and accessories from her Facebook/Instagram shop?

Lost business

Their businesses were effectively closed for 6 hours!

Ok, so they were back up and running the next day, but how much of their business was lost to other traders that had back up ways to get in touch and buy.

Consider this… On that evening of the 4th October, I needed to book a brunch for family members that were visiting for my wedding. I searched on Google, but so many businesses used Facebook links instead of weblinks on their profiles that I couldn’t get the information I needed to make a booking. In the end my choices were limited to only a few places, simply because I couldn’t see their up to date menus or get in touch with them to book in.

So many businesses ask their customers to “pm to book” or rely on platforms to keep their customers updated as to opening hours, menus, or availability, for example.

But, during the outage, people turned elsewhere on the web. Google got busy, Etsy saw increased sales, and Twitter and LinkedIn were inundated. If you relied on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to market and sell your products, your customers were shopping elsewhere.

Time For Change

For a long time, we have been encouraging businesses to spread their bet and include other ways to market and sell their stuff. But, after a second outage in a month, and the fact that Facebook has intentionally made it harder for businesses to get engagement on the platform, I have to say that I no longer feel it’s wise, or safe, to rely on Facebook at all.

If you’ve been following the recent official enquiry into user safety at Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know that Facebook is on thin ice when it comes to putting its users first. In one instance, research had indicated that a users mental health suffered when the number of reactions on a post was displayed. So, Facebook removed them for a trial group. Mental health improved, but engagement dropped, so reactions were reinstated and the research was dismissed! I can only wonder, if that’s their attitude, how long Facebook can continue the way it is.

Facebooks attitude to safety has not been ignored. Cosmetic firm Lush has announced the closure of it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat accounts across the world. Chief Executive, Mark Constantine said “I’m not willing to expose my customers to this harm, so it’s time to take it out of the mix.” And, I’m sure they aren’t the only company with concerns.

And if you are interested in the attitude Facebook has regarding smaller businesses, check out the latest news regarding their re-brand. The name Meta has already been registered by a small computer firm in Arizona. Mark Zuckerberg could buy the trademark from them, the IT company has offered to sell! Instead, they intend to pursue “other angles,” which basically means they intend to bully it off them for a fraction of the price!

On Borrowed Time

Facebook has already admitted that they want to make the platform more “fun” for it’s users and that was a huge driver for the latest algorithm change. How long before small businesses are forced to pay for their page, or get pushed out altogether?

What if the worst happened? Apple recently threatened to remove the app from its store over safety concerns, and other countries have threatened to ban it too. Or, Facebook could voluntarily close it’s platforms down tomorrow.

How would your business cope if you woke up tomorrow and found that Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp had shut down, or lost half its users due to a ban on Apple devices?

You might also be interested in… 9 Reasons to start a blog in 2022

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