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Relying 100% on Social Media for Your Business Is Foolish

I find power outages to be fascinating. I’m not involved in any way with any city’s power supplier, so what could be a simple matter of just overloading the power grid (or whatever) is totally lost to me.

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

I find power outages to be fascinating. I’m not involved in any way with any city’s power supplier, so what could be a simple matter of just overloading the power grid (or whatever) is totally lost to me. For all I know, power outages are caused by solar flares or the mischievous doings of a rampaging band of hyper-intelligent mice.

Could it be any clearer that I clearly don’t understand how an electric utility works?

I assume many power outages are caused by an overloading issue. Too many people run power hungry machines, like air conditioners, and there’s just not enough power available to supply electricity to an entire area. Portions of the city are then forced to lose power because there’s just nothing available for them or to avoid any serious damage to electrical equipment.

It’s a common occurrence, or rather, a common annoyance. So common, in fact, that most everybody has some sort of contingency in place for when they do inevitably lose power. Whether it’s a fancy external generator, battery-powered LED lanterns, or even just a handful of candles, most of us aren’t really forced to live in a dark world anymore.

Let’s just hope there’s no zombie apocalypse anytime soon because I don’t think the world has a contingency plan in place for that.

But what do you do when there’s no backup in place for you?

The lessons of Instagram, etc.

Full disclosure: at the exact time of this writing, the Instagram account for Dandy Cat Design is not currently active. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have any experience dealing with the hulking beast of a social network that Instagram has become. I too have suffered through the outages that plague Instagram.

It’s a good thing that massive Instagram outages are pretty rare, but it’s still super annoying to try posting an image to your feed only to have it hang and do nothing at all. And then you think your phone’s all messed up, so you restart it but that doesn’t fix the issue. Hopefully, you’re not one of those people who signs out of Instagram during their outages; that’s not a great thing to do at that moment.

Or you head over to Down Detector to see if anyone else is having those same issues and see that, ah yes, Instagram is properly down. Cue the anguished cries!

Instagram going down shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, even if it invariably does. As I said, it’s a massive thing, with many millions of users. There’s no way in the world that Instagram can stay up 100% of the time forever and ever. Software can break when there’s only a small handful of people using it, much less a worldwide social network.

Software is never perfect.

Instagram will go down. Facebook will go down. Twitter and Pinterest and Slack will go down. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin (or Daniel Defoe), “[...] but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and Insta failures.”

What will you do if it all goes away?

None of that’s to say that I don’t like the potential of social media. It’s a great tool that can be used to connect with so many people from all around the world. We can experience foods, locations, and ideas we might never have had access to without them. Entire industries have been built on the back of social media.

That last one is my biggest concern. Like, my fear-for-people’s-livelihoods concern.

What would happen if, one day, Facebook decides to roll up Instagram and just make the photo sharing platform a part of the company’s main platform? Years ago, I wouldn’t have thought they’d do anything like that, but that was before their serious privacy and security violations came to light.

Now they appear as a company willing to do anything. Who’s to say they wouldn’t fold Instagram into Facebook when oversight committees and lawmakers in the U.S. government come wanting to break up the very powerful (perhaps too powerful) technology companies of the world?

If Instagram goes away, then what happens to the people who depend on it for their life-sustaining income? In fact, if companies like Myspace and Vine are any indication, maybe it shouldn’t be if Instagram goes away, but when it goes away. Suddenly, those people who have gone all in on a single platform as their sole source of income are in deep trouble.

I don’t wish that on anybody, but much like having a handful of candles ready in case there’s a power outage, there needs to be a contingency plan in place for when Instagram goes down.

All hail the great email

Email isn’t infallible, either. Email service providers will go down, too, but it sure has weathered a whole lot of storms in its existence. I would go so far to say that, if treated with respect, email is still probably the most reliable option for building an audience and business.

Facebook may have over 2 billion active users, but it’s estimated that there will be at least double that many email users by 2022. Surely, that number will only continue to grow beyond that date. Nearly half of the entire world’s population will have an email address in the near future.

Email isn’t going anywhere, despite what companies like Slack may try to say.

Email most likely won’t go the way of a platform like Vine, where it was bought out and subsequently shut down. As far as I know, there’s no way to shut down email in a way that it stays gone for good. It’s decentralized and that’s where its beauty lies.

Unless, of course, there’s that aforementioned zombie apocalypse. Fingers crossed, friend 🤞

Most importantly, you won’t have to fight an algorithm to get your email noticed by someone who’s following your work. Your email will appear in their inbox just like anybody else’s. If that isn’t power, I don’t know what is.

With the reliability of email, and the inherent power of growing a group of email followers, that terrifying eventuality of Instagram going down, whether temporarily or for good, isn’t really as much of a concern anymore. Let Instagram go down, in fact. You can just send out an email to your fans letting them know that you’re still here for them.

You can keep on working with a smile on your face because you know that your business won’t screech to a halt due to some silly little Instagram outage.

Having a contingency plan in place for emergencies is a smart thing to do. You don’t want to be caught off guard when something unforeseen hits. None of us should be putting all our eggs into a single basket.

Those eggs are gonna get crushed.

I’m not recommending that you swear off Instagram for yourself or your business. If it’s going well for you there, then keep rocking it, superstar! But when you’re riding the highs of your business, you shouldn’t be blind to any possible lows.

Consider growing some email followers instead of focusing just on Instagram followers. Make a more personal connection with someone by showing up in their inbox, instead of maybe showing up in their feed.

I want you to work on developing your own contingency plan. What are you going to do the next time Instagram goes down?

Be prepared, cats.

On Pinterest? Be sure to pin these images.


Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶

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