Monday was an odd day for social media users, communications departments, paid advertisers…and, you know, about 2 billion people worldwide.
Without warning, Facebook went offline for 6 hours.
So, what happened? Was this related to the massive PR crisis for the social media giant? Will we see more outages across Facebook and its platforms? How will Facebook continue to be impacted by the recent whistleblower report?
Most importantly, what does this mean for nonprofits as we head into the biggest fundraising season of the year?
Kara Warr, Director of Digital Media Services
For about 6 hours on Monday, Facebook and all of its platforms (including Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus) went completely dark. Users began seeing error messages on Monday morning, and while services came back online by the evening, the severity of the impact had already become crystal clear.
Late on Monday, Facebook said the outage was caused by a networking issue that interrupted communication. According to Facebook’s VP of infrastructure, “This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has crashed, nor is this the first time users and organizations realized the subsequent impact on daily life.
What Does This Mean for Nonprofits Ahead of Calendar Year End?
We honestly don’t know what’s going to happen with Facebook going forward. This is unsettling for nonprofits that are gearing up for the biggest fundraising period of the year.
So how do you ensure a successful end of the calendar year on digital channels?
There are lots of options. Facebook is a big player, but they aren’t the only one. Making sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket this calendar year end will keep you prepared if Facebook is no longer a viable fundraising method.
What Do We Recommend?
Email is still the giant in the digital world. This is where the bulk of your revenue is likely to come in. Do not be afraid of having an aggressive email strategy. Despite inbox overload around the holidays, we rarely see a significant spike in unsubscribes.
Recommendation: Stay at the top of donors’ minds by staying at the top of their inboxes!
Focus on Paid Search campaigns. These campaigns, when used correctly, have strong ROI. While Google is the largest search advertiser, consider Microsoft advertising as well. You can even duplicate your Google campaigns directly into the Microsoft interface.
Recommendation: Invest beyond your Google Grant account. Search advertising is all about pay to play!
Look at other social options. Depending on the demographics of your donor base look into other social media platforms. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat all have advertising platforms that can be leveraged to acquire new donors.
Recommendation: Remember that these platforms attract different user demographics so make sure you have the right fit for your organization!
Try display advertising. The Google Display Network and Amazon display ads both feature affordable options in display campaigns. Your direct ROI may not be as strong, but it’s another touchpoint to help drive up overall donations throughout the season.
Recommendation: Respond to short attention spans during CYE. Audiences are primed for philanthropic giving and display ads create an instant connection!
Should You Stop Using Facebook?
Don’t do anything rash. Facebook and Instagram still represent strong sources of revenue for nonprofits especially as platforms for peer-to-peer fundraising. But given current events, you should start to evaluate if Facebook’s ideologies align with your organization’s.
Facebook is currently under intense scrutiny after a whistleblower released documents showing that the company was aware—and purposefully misled the public—about the dangers of the platform and its abilities to affect body image as well as spread hate, violence, and misinformation.
The whistleblower, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, testified during a Senate hearing Tuesday. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” she said. “Congressional action is needed.”
Think About Your Brand and Audience.
There is no way to know what the impact of the whistleblower report will be long term, but now is the time to consider what these findings mean for your audiences and take the time to focus on cultivating positive and transparent communications with your social followers.
I certainly hope we will see some positive changes come out of the whistleblower report, but if not, you should look at the possible effect associating with Facebook could have on your brand. A nonprofit’s success and reputation is built on honesty and trustworthiness—you don’t want to sacrifice that for a social media platform.