Though crashes, hacks and other digital "power outages" don’t happen every day, the disruption they cause can have swift and severe repercussions for your business and bottom line. As a marketer, your job isn’t to fix these disasters, but rather to manage your reaction to them. How? Develop and cross-train your team on a mix of proactive and reactive strategies that keep everyone agile and prepared.
Digital emergencies happen when you least expect it, but you should always expect to have a plan B that cushions their blows. In March 2019, the e-commerce world went into a state of hysteria when Facebook (and its satellites, Instagram and WhatsApp) went dark for over 24 hours, setting loose mayhem in ad auctions and affecting businesses around the world. In August 2018, Shopify experienced an outage that sent brands storming to Twitter to complain that their customers couldn’t purchase their products.
Long story short, whether it’s your CMS going down or a data cloud being hacked, you should always be ready to act without delay and open up a line of communication with your customers to keep them informed of what’s going on. After all, the consequences of a digital disaster go beyond your ad spend or a loss of revenue: they affect new customers who may be deterred from visiting your site again or impact existing customers’ trust in your brand.
Proactive strategies are preventative maintenance: think exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep. They strengthen your brand’s “armor” and reduce the chance you’ll be struck by a crisis. One of the best things you can do is nurture a robust media ecosystem that doesn’t depend entirely on one platform, so when the freeway is jammed, you already know of a train you can take instead. You can do this by ensuring all the content you intended to post on Facebook or Instagram, for instance, can be calibrated to alternative platforms (Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, etc.).
Our recommendations for proactive strategies:
As proactive as you might be, mishaps are inevitable and you’ll want to be able to react as quickly and intelligently as possible. In the case of a platform outage, monitor the situation closely by setting up alerts on as many sources as you can (Twitter, Google, etc.) to learn the latest updates on fixes or timelines for the various platforms you rely on. Use your list of agency and platform contacts to keep in close touch with your representatives. Keep your entire team up-to-date on the situation efficiently by setting up a new Slack channel, group text or email chain.
While internal communication is paramount, don’t forget to keep your customers in the loop as well. Tweet updates and post to your Instagram Story to let your followers and customers know not only what’s going on, but also where they can find you or your products elsewhere, online or offline.
Technology has broadened the scope of how we can grow businesses, but it’s not fool-proof. If you have a cohesive back-up marketing plan in place, a digital catastrophe is no reason for your business to stop in its tracks. Act ahead as much as you can—and before you find yourself scrambling and unprepared in the aftermath of a crisis, be proactive and set yourself (and your customers) up for a marketing emergency success
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James is a Content Editor at Hawke Media. When he's not putting together content strategies for clients, he makes magical origami shapes.