For a while yesterday, most of us kept hitting the refresh button to no avail.
For upwards of six hours, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and several other platforms experienced major outages. But while many of us were sweating the fact that we couldn’t post that witty status update or new puppy picture to the Gram, many Columbus restaurants were staring down a potentially catastrophic situation.
Because like it or not, we live in a world where social media is not only another tool for local business, it’s an indispensable avenue for advertisement and engagement.
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“The marketing side of Facebook is such a blessing for restaurants, largely because a lot of it’s free,” said Janvier Ward, owner of the Columbus food truck and forthcoming Trolley District vendor, Creole 2 Geaux. “It’s one of the quickest and cheapest ways to get customers involved. They can know at the drop of a dime if you have a sale or a special. If you’re a food truck, people can find out where you’ll be.”
And when social networks go down, so does that opportunity.
According to Land-Grant Director of Communications Meredith Miles, the long-standing Columbus Brewery has three new beers it’s ready to roll out this week. And the best platform to do, she says, is through social media.
“That’s our primary mouthpiece for information like that; If things would’ve been offline any day other than just today, it would have really been an issue,” she said. “For a lot of craft breweries, many of which are small businesses, that’s how they communicate these things.”
But it’s not all bad news. Even though the prolonged outage resulted in missed opportunities for many restaurants, even to Columbus eateries with skin in the game, there was a silver lining.
“It’s frustrating, but the outage really got me thinking about how much we rely on social media as a business. It’s important to get that perspective,” said Ninja City owner Bac Nguyen.
Yesterday also likely left many restaurants wondering how to protect themselves in the future. Luckily, there are answers.
While social media is a necessary outlet for many businesses, according to Columbus PR consultant Allison Bowers, the name of the game is diversification.
“As marketers and brands, we put a lot of our eggs in the social media basket; so outages on social platforms can have a huge impact to overall strategy,” she said. “We have to remember to be more holistic with our approach and rely not just on specific tactics. Shore up your strategies, be ready to pivot and remember it is possible to connect with your audience through other methods.”
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