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Last night at about 1:00am EST, Facebook and Instagram went down for about an hour across the world. Within minutes there was a new trending hashtag: #FacebookDown.

While it is easy to poke fun at Facebook and Instagram for making some kind of error, we can relate to how the executives and employees might have felt during that excruciating hour of getting their product back up and running.

Some situations are out of a marketer’s control, but it is their job to keep their cool in a bad situation and make the best of it.

So let’s take a look at how Facebook and Instagram handled their outage and see if you can take away lessons for your own business in case of a brand crisis.

1. Acknowledge the problem.
Keeping your users in the dark about an issue is not helpful to them or for your brand. Even if you are unsure of the source of the problem, it is best to acknowledge that you know there is one and plan on getting to the bottom of it.

Think about what other outlets your audience may go to for information about what is happening. If your store’s website is having problems loading, for example, try sending out an email to your users to let them know you are working toward a solution.

In this situation, Instagram used another social outlet and tweeted out a statement that they were working on a fix for getting their service restored. There has been a lot of buzz in the media that Twitter is weary of top influencers also being on Instagram, so it made sense for Instagram to use this medium to reach their users.

Twitter - Instagram - Outage
Image Source: DailyMail.co.uk

2. Give an explanation.
Once stories were published about the social networks being offline, Facebook was ready with a statement on what caused the outage.

This was not the result of a third-party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems. Both services are back to 100 percent for everyone. (Newsweek)

It was especially important for this statement to happen in the wake of major hacking of digital services, like Sony. In fact, the hacker group Lizard Squad, who claims responsibility for the Sony attack, tweeted that they were behind last night’s outage.

Since Facebook was quick and open to respond about the problems, users were able to rest easy and assume that Lizard Squad was just trying to get further ahead in the press after attacking Malaysia Airlines’ site just the day before.

The best thing to do in your explanation is to be vulnerable and honest to let your audience know you are truly sorry for their inconvenience.

3. Reassure your users.
Despite Facebook denying the claims of a hack, they are still advising users to change their passwords as a precaution for their digital security.

While it may cause speculation that there really was a hack, Facebook is simply reaffirming the promises made in their Privacy Policy that was enabled at the beginning of the year.

Showing your dedication to your users by investing in their digital wellbeing is one way to earn back their loyalty to your brand after a mishap.

The moral of this story is to be open and direct with any problem you may encounter – a tweet in poor taste, a bad review, or a major outage. The point is to communicate with your audience and, lucky for you, communication is the essence of being a Social Media Marketer.

So don’t worry, you’re now even more prepared than you thought for all the just-in-cases out there!

Just for fun, share your favorite #FacebookDown tweets in the comments!

About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. Get more from Deanna on Pagemodo’s Blog and Twitter.

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