The most recent FaceBook outage is almost over but it left many of the millions of FaceBook users high and dry from their news feed, their Instagram posts and even their WhatsApp messages, not to mention the thousands of web sites which use FaceBook authentication services. It’s affected a reported 2.3 billion users.
A Facebook outage? So what?
Think about your startup – you’ve built your main app upon the FaceBook social network – either to get access to their marketplace, to advertise, to extend your reach or just to provide some sort of authentication for users. And for 14 hours, no-one can log in. They can’t post, they can’t contact each other. This includes services like Doctors surgeries who build a WhatsApp-based chat function onto their web site. That’s a potentially life-threatening situation!
This phenomenon of using established networks for reach and other services is known as ‘sharecropping’ Sharecropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner (Facebook) allows a tenant (you) to use the land (the network) in return for a share of the crops (attention, custom) produced on their portion of land. It’s not uncommon – think that developing apps on Windows is sharecropping from Microsoft, IOS from Apple, Android from Google. It’s challenging to build identity and a market from scratch so we all use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, FaceBook to try and extend reach. Anyone who built a substantial following on Google+ could probably give a sober warning about the dangers of sharecropping (as they are closing down the network on August 31st 2019).
Building a community
You have to work to build your community – to own your customers. Use these social media platforms to amplify your message but keep your main identity and technology separate. With FaceBook also announcing that their next version is built around privacy rather than sharing, you must see the writing on the wall and prepare for it.
We built Start VI back before Twitter was popular here. We built Digital Circle the same way. Hundreds of people flocked to OpenCoffee Belfast because of a mailing list and word of mouth. You can build entire markets on your own platforms using email, the web, and your own technology stacks.
If you need help or advice on building your own platforms, we’re open to help. We will be helping all of our startups to establish their own identities on the Internet as well as exploit existing networks to their advantage.