Asana went down earlier this week and I had no idea what I was meant to be doing.
Everything I have to do goes in there, down to the smallest detail – it’s not just a to do list but a way to plan my time and prioritise.
(Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help users organise work, track projects, and manage tasks).
It went down about 4 pm and I knew I had two tasks outstanding for the day but couldn’t for the life of me remember what they were (luckily the outage wasn’t long and I was able to tick off my last two tasks pretty quickly).
But it got me thinking… yes, all this technology is fantastic, but what happens when it goes wrong? What if your software and systems go down for a while? What if the channels you’re using are no longer available?
Now, this is in no way a criticism of Asana. In fact, they were back up and running quickly and kept users informed. (And any of my work colleagues will tell you I’m Asana’s biggest fan).
But it is a look at our reliance on software, websites, and other channels… a reliance that might sometimes be to our detriment.
We’ve all seen recent instances where Facebook goes down, Instagram goes down, Twitter goes down. For those relying on those channels – influencers, businesses, advertisers – this presents a problem and impacts their work.
In March this year, Facebook had a 14-hour outage. The BBC reported the outage of the Facebook family of apps as the “most severe outage ever” estimating an impact on “around 2.3bn monthly users today.” Source.
Affecting Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, during this time, users couldn’t post on some channels and couldn’t access content.
For those using the channels for advertising, they were hard hit. Although Facebook doesn’t charge advertisers for their campaigns unless specific results are achieved, if you’re relying on the channel to promote your products and services, it could potentially impact your bottom line.
Equally, influencers being paid to share content are going to feel an effect. Although many contracts may include a clause for outages and other such incidents, there may still be some loss of income.
Another example is an app that I use to crop photos for Instagram so that they have a white border and are square. A colleague tried to download the app and it was nowhere to be seen – not in the app store, no website, nothing.
It’s certainly not the end of the world but it’s something I use from time to time and, without thinking, assume it will always be there. It’s a small example of where I’ve become overly reliant on something with no guarantee.
What can we do?
So, what is the solution? I don’t think there is a one size fits all. On a practical level, backing up systems and software on a regular basis is a given.
In PR terms, don’t rely entirely on one channel. Consider the O of the PESO model (paid, earned, shared, owned) and look at owned content where you have more control.
And, where relevant, develop an integrated communications strategy that doesn’t put all your eggs in one basket.