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For the few of you out there who don’t know, Facebook and the other platforms it owns (Instagram and WhatsApp) experienced an outage yesterday, October 4. The outage kept the sites offline for more than six hours after beginning around 10:30 AM Monday morning. 

Apparently, the problem was made even worse as Facebook’s own internal tools and communication systems went down at the same time, making it even harder for engineers to address and fix the problem.

Now, we are learning what caused the outages as Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, apologize for the interruption to its services.

Why Did Facebook Go Offline?

According to official statements from the company, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down Monday, October 4, 2021, due to an interruption in communication between the company’s data centers. 

This interruption was caused by configuration changes on the routers coordinating traffic between the data centers. These configuration changes brought about a disruption in network traffic that cascaded into a complete service shutdown.

As the company explained:

“Our services are now back online and we’re actively working to fully return them to regular operations. We want to make clear at this time we believe the root cause of this outage was a faulty configuration change.”

Mark Zuckerberg himself posted a brief personal apology, which states:

“Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger are coming back online now. Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.”

Was Any User Data Compromised?

Throughout the outage, rumors swirled that the disruption was the result of hackers, DDoS attacks, and numerous other causes. This inevitably also led to speculation that user data had been compromised during the situation.

Despite the rumors, Facebook denied any such issues:

“We also have no evidence that user data was compromised as a result of this downtime.”

How Advertisers Are Effected

Since the outage also made it impossible to actually run any ads across the company’s platforms, Facebook says it will not charge advertisers for any campaigns running during the outage time.

Now that services are back online, the company says ads should be running as normal. In some situations, the company may even enable accelerated delivery to make up for potential lost reach.

What Can Be Learned

Obviously, outages like this are entirely out of most of our hands. Still, there is one thing we can take away from the Great Facebook Outage of 2021: diversify your online presence. 

Brands who exclusively or primarily drive traffic through their Facebook and Instagram pages found themselves almost entirely at a loss for most of yesterday. Those who were already established on multiple platforms, however, were able to pivot their focus and even take advantage of the service disruption.

This week, Facebook teased a number of new features it is working on to help brands better connect with their customers and drive more leads across its platforms. 

The upcoming and newly released features highlighted by the company include everything from expanding its existing ad formats to creating entirely new ways to do business online. 

Let’s explore everything showcased in the company’s recent blog post below:

Click-to-Message Ads Come To More Chat Apps

For some time now, Facebook has offered an ad format designed to encourage viewers to take action through its many chat services, like Messenger or WhatsApp. 

Now, the company is updating this ad format to make it possible to reach brands on a wider range of messaging platforms, including those not owned by Facebook. 

While Facebook hasn’t provided an actual list of the messaging apps which will be included in the updated click-to-message ads, the blog post suggests it will include all major messaging apps used by consumers today. 

Start WhatsApp Chats on Instagram

Aside from dropping into someone’s DMs, Instagram has been obviously lacking the robust messaging options included on most Facebook social networks. Now, with integration through WhatsApp, that is changing. 

Now, brands on Instagram can add a click-to-chat button on their profile which will instantly launch a WhatsApp chat conversation when clicked. 

Even better, the company says it is working on ads that will also allow users to immediately start a WhatsApp chat from an advertisement on Instagram. 

Request Quotes on Messenger

Select advertisers are testing an upcoming feature that will allow brands to invite customers to request a quote within Messenger.

With the feature, brands can create a customized request form using 4-5 specific questions to ask potential customers before sending a message. 

Once completed, consumers can request a quote by completing a short questionnaire on Messenger.

Instagram Lead Generation

Though the company is keeping largely mum on the details, it also teased plans to launch free and paid tools for helping small businesses drive qualified leads on Instagram. 

“Advertisers use lead generation ads to connect with customers and connect leads in a more personal way, while reducing costs — like Seoul Spa, a Vietnamese beauty clinic, did with their Messenger campaign, lowering their cost per lead by 72%.”

To see more of the upcoming features Facebook is currently testing, check out the full Facebook for Business blog post here.

Facebook shared a new report this week which lists the hottest trends on its platform and Instagram in recent months. 

The latest edition of the Facebook and Instagram “Topics to Watch” report shines a spotlight on the top three topics from both platforms in the second quarter of this based on year-over-year data. 

Importantly, that means these are not the topics that had the most engagement overall. The report shows the trends which specifically showed the growth patterns most likely to lead to long-term popularity on Facebook and Instagram. This helps filter out flashes in the pan which become all the rage for a week and then fizzle out. 

The Topics to Watch On Facebook from Q2 2021

Wedding Receptions

  • 1.57x year-over-year growth
  • 1.20x month-over-month growth

Many couples are deciding now is the time to tie the knot after a year of delayed receptions or spending a year social distancing together. As such, interest in wedding receptions has shot up in recent months across Facebook and its platforms.

However, the impact of the pandemic is still clear since data suggests couples are still opting for smaller gatherings with less than 50 guests or even virtual ceremonies. 

Pop-Up Retail

  • 3.59x year-over-year growth
  • 1.02x month-over-month growth

Pop-up shops have been an increasingly popular trend for retailers in recent years, and recent events have only made them more appealing for both brands and consumers.

As Facebook explains, “Pop-ups can last anywhere from a day to a few months and offer an element of surprise and exclusivity for consumers” while allowing retailers to connect with new customers in untapped markets.

“As some people begin to feel comfortable shopping in-person again, pop-ups provide opportunities for consumers to enjoy a new type of retail experience and learn about all kinds of brands.”

Pet Sitting

  • 1.60x year-over-year growth
  • 1.25x month-over-month growth

After a year of their owners being home to give them constant love and affection, many pets may be experiencing loneliness or feelings of abandonment as companies return to in-office work and social events resume.

To help make the transition back to a regular work schedule easier on their fluffy family (and themselves), pet owners are increasingly seeking pet sitting services. At the same time, some who are looking for more flexible job options post-pandemic are showing interest in pet sitting as a fun way to help bring in more revenue.

Specifically, Facebook users are looking for more modern pet sitting services which allow pet owners to stay informed about their pets throughout the day, helping both pet and owner adjust to the time apart. 

The Topics to Watch On Instagram from Q2 2021

Family Reunion

  • 3.03x year-over-year growth
  • 1.69x year-over-year growth

In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, many are combining the desire to reconnect with family and make some new memories with destination family reunions. Not only does this give people a much-needed chance to get out of their homes, this approach also presents the chance to share the experience with your entire family. 

Of course, not everyone is planning a destination reunion. Data shows that more traditional reunions are also experiencing a rise in popularity on Instagram.

Car Rental

  • 1.81x year-over-year growth
  • 0.97x month-over-month growth

Continuing the theme of getting away from home, Instagram data indicates that car rental demand has grown since the removal of lockdown policies across much of the country. 

The issue has been made even worse (and helped drive interest in the topic) as the availability of rental cars has become limited and costs have shot up due to a microchip shortage slowing the production of cars. 

Drag Shows

  • 1.84x year-over-year growth
  • 1.41x month-over-month growth

Whether it’s related to the growing mainstream popularity of Ru Paul’s Drag Race or the need for excitement and new experiences post-lockdown, Instagram is seeing a surprising rise in interest in drag shows.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the report describes a drag show as “a gender-bending art form put on by drag artists, or people who dress in clothes and makeup that amplify a specific gender identity, usually of the opposite sex.”

Notably, the report says that many drag shows have continued to be broadcast digitally to account for those who are uncertain about public events due to Covid and bring a feeling of unity or connection to those feeling isolated because of their identity or social distancing.

To see the full report, including even more data and analysis, click here.

Getting “verified” on Facebook or Instagram serves as a badge of honor, signifying your place as a notable brand or individual on the platforms. However, it isn’t always clear who counts as ‘notable’ and who will be denied the blue checkmark – especially as Facebook and Instagram have recently updated their guidelines for who can be verified. 

To make it clear who can be verified, how to get verified, and what comes with the special badge, Facebook recently shared an in-depth post about the verification process on the Facebook for Creators page.

What Is Verification?

One thing that Facebook wants to make very clear is that being verified is not an endorsement from the platform.

It will not help your rankings or visibility in users’ feeds or earn you favorability in any other way on the platform.

Being verified is just a signal of notability and authenticity – nothing more.

What Is Needed To Apply for Verification?

Along with a typical application form, Facebook also asks for a number of details to confirm that you are a notable person or organization. This includes:

Proof of Authenticity

Facebook requires that you provide a form of official documentation proving that you are the person in question or a genuine representative of the organization applying. This can be done by providing one of the following:

  • A Passport
  • A Driving License
  • Tax Filing
  • NI Card
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • A Recent Utility Bill

Select Your Category

Applicants must identify themselves as one of the following types of profiles or pages which are ‘in the public interest’:

  • News/Media.
  • Government and politics.
  • Sports.
  • Fashion.
  • Music.
  • Entertainer.
  • Gamer.
  • Digital creator / blogger / influencer.
  • Business / brand / organization.
  • Other.

Additional Details

Applicants can also provide optional extra details which describe your audience, reasons why people follow you, and their related interests. 

Along with this, you can provide up to five links to pages or profiles showing that your brand is ‘in the public interest’. 

To be clear, Facebook states that links to clearly promotional or paid content will be disregarded.

Further Notes from Facebook

The post also details some of the basic guidelines and standards for verified profiles and pages, particularly that applicants must be:

  • For an account that represents a registered business or entity, or be a real person.
  • For a public account – with a bio, profile photo, ‘about’ section, and has a minimum of one post.
  • For an account that has a unique presence – pets and publications are also eligible.
  • For an account that represents a highly-searched for and well-known brand, entity, or person.
  • For one account per person or business – with the only exception being for language-specific accounts.

A Word of Caution

Lastly, Facebook warns that getting verified does tend to come with increased attention from bad actors, including hackers, scammers, and impersonators.

As such, it recommends that verified accounts enable two-factor authentication and be watchful for copycats impersonating them.

Facebook Groups have been a clever way for entrepreneurs and business leaders to establish themselves as an important figure in both their local community and their national industry. Now, Groups are getting the chance to formally tag those authority figures as the experts they are.

In a new update, Facebook Groups administrators gained the ability to tag specific group members as “subject matter experts.”

This title will come with unique labels when posting or participating in streams or audio chats, as well as a few unique abilities to help generate and lead discussions. 

According to the social network, the new tag is designed to help acknowledge those who regularly share helpful knowledge and provide a bit of clout to those voices. 

“There are more than 70 million admins and moderators running active Facebook groups around the world. Many of these groups are home to subject matter experts who love to share their knowledge, from fitness trainers to highly skilled crafters.

“Now, it’s easier than ever to help experts stand out in groups and offer ways for them to engage with their communities.”

What Comes With Being a Facebook Group Expert?

The most obvious perk of being a Facebook Group Subject Matter Expert is the small badge that displays under your name when posting in that group. 

This will make it easier to spot comments that may have important information among even the biggest comment chains.

Along with this badge, Facebook is also working on a few unique ways for group experts to help generate community discussion, including:

  • Ask Questions: When people write a post that looks like a question in their group, the post will automatically be upgraded to a format that encourages others to share advice, information or perspective. 
  • Create Live Audio Rooms in Groups: A low-pressure way for subject matter experts and communities to get ideas and inspiration from each other through audio-first conversations. Live Audio Rooms are coming to Groups this summer.
  • Host Q&As: A way for people to lead real-time question-and-answer sessions with their communities, in a text-based format. Answered questions are featured in an interactive, swipe-able stack, while all questions may be viewed in the Q&A’s comment section.

How To Designate a Facebook Group Expert

There are two ways for group admins to mark someone as an expert.

The first way is by searching the group member list for an individual by name, then selecting “Make group expert” from the member menu.

The other method is by choosing the option within the drop-down menu on posts or comments.

Note that this role must be accepted by the member in question, and admins can revoke the title at any time.

Following the massive success of online shopping through Facebook and Instagram, Facebook announced it is bringing Shops to WhatsApp along with a slew of other new e-commerce features.

According to the announcement, nearly 75% of people said they use Facebook-owned social networks to discover brands or products online. 

Even more, some industries have seen wild gains with over 85% of people surveyed saying they had purchased a fashion, beauty, furniture, or electronic product they first found through a Facebook platform. 

Now, the company’s goal is to streamline the process while bringing in new features and expanding shopping capabilities to the often forgotten WhatsApp.

To achieve this goal, the latest updates include:

  • Bringing Shops To More Places
  • Introducing Customer Reviews on Instagram
  • Creating Personalized Shop Ads
  • Opening AR Features To More Brands

Let’s look at each of these a bit more in-depth.

Bringing Shops To More Places

Facebook Shops on WhatsApp and Marketplace

When setting up a Shop, brands have been presented with two options for where their products can appear: Facebook and Instagram. Now, those options are finally getting expanded. 

First, brands in the U.S. will have the option to also showcase their products in Marketplace.

With over one billion people using Marketplace every month, it only makes sense that Facebook would be making it easier to get their products included.

Additionally, businesses in several countries around the world are also getting the ability to put their shop on WhatsApp, the popular Facebook-owned message and phone call app. 

With this, users will be able to browse your entire product catalogue, share products with friends, and ask you questions they might have about your products without leaving the app. 

Best of all, you only have to set up your store once to have it up and running on all three apps. 

Introducing Customer Reviews on Instagram

In the coming months, users will begin getting the ability to rate and review products they’ve purchased in Shops on Instagram. 

Instagram Product Reviews

Similar to most modern online product reviews, users will be able to leave a simple star rating, write a longer in-depth text review, and share pictures of the real-life products with others. 

Brands will also be able to leave responses to address any concerns or manage customer-service opportunities. 

As the announcement says:

“We always want shoppers to feel confident in the purchases they make, so we’re giving people more information before they buy…

“These changes will help people make more informed decisions on what to buy, and will let businesses know if they are meeting customer expectations.”

Creating Personalized Shop Ads

Facebook is introducing a new type of personalized ads for shops which will showcase curated collections to those most likely to purchase. 

Personalized Ads For Product Collections

By comparing past shopping behavior, the platform is attempting to connect users with the products most likely to excite them. 

Facebook says:

“Personalized ads are often the beginning of the shopping journey and businesses want to offer shopping experiences that are seamless and personalized. That’s why we’re introducing Shops ads solutions that provide unique ads experiences based on people’s shopping preferences.”

Opening AR Features To More Brands

Augmented Reality (AR) has been predicted to be a major force in product advertising since the earliest days of the internet, and it is finally making good on that promise. 

Smartphone cameras and increasing processing ability are making it possible for users to virtually “try on” products without having to deal with dirty dressing rooms or pushy attendants. 

The last hurdle is making these tools widely available to brands that don’t have millions to spend on developing AR systems. 

That is exactly what Facebook is hoping to do by developing new APIs that will make it easier for brands to integrate AR into their product catalogues. 

The APIs will begin rolling out to beauty product brands in the near future, with support for other industries coming shortly after. 

Along with these features, the social network says it is testing a new ad format which would use AR technology to allow users to “try on” products from your ads. Though it is only in testing currently, Facebook says it expects to roll out the ads to more brands by the end of the year.

Facebook is making major changes to its news feeds in a new bid to create a better experience for users in the near future. Before it can do so, though, the company is seeking feedback from users.

As the company recently announced, it is revamping parts of the news feed system to encourage four specific types of user feedback to better understand content. In the future, Facebook intends to use this information to create new ranking signals to directly decide what content users see.

Specifically, the company says it aims to gather answers to these four questions to get better at providing quality content in the future:

Is This Post Inspirational?

Facebook’s feeds have a bad reputation for highlighting negative content which can turn into a feedback loop of endless “doom scrolling.” With this in mind, the social network is looking to deliver more inspirational or uplifting content for users.

As the announcement says:

“To this end, we’re running a series of global tests that will survey people to understand which posts they find inspirational. We’ll incorporate their responses as a signal in News Feed ranking, with the goal of showing people more inspirational posts closer to the top of their News Feed.”

Is This Content Interesting?

Perhaps the most important factors for users scrolling through content is whether any of it is actually interesting to them. At times, it can feel like you can scroll for hours without seeing anything exciting or particularly relevant to their interests. 

“… we know sometimes even your closest friends and family share posts about topics that aren’t really interesting to you, or that you don’t want to see. To address this, we’ll ask people whether they want to see more or fewer posts about a certain topic, such as Cooking, Sports or Politics, and based on their collective feedback, we’ll aim to show people more content about the topics they’re more interested in, and show them fewer posts about topics they don’t want to see.”

Do You Want To See Less of This Content?

A huge part of Facebook’s reputation for negative content is the huge amount of political content shared on the social network. 

Since many turn to social media to connect with family, friends, and get away from the pressures of the real world, a large amount of political content can be tiresome and potentially make them less likely to check their feed regularly. 

Further, there are times where you might show an interest in a topic and start seeing an influx of tangentially related content that is not especially useful to you. Think clicking one particularly interesting headline and suddenly seeing tons of content on that topic, even though it’s not really that interesting to you.

To help with this, the company will start surveying users about content they have responded negatively to in order to create a ranking signal to deliver more relevant and positive content.

Was Giving Feedback Easy?

In some form or another, Facebook has given users the ability to deliver this type of feedback for several years. The problem is that finding the tools to do so was often a game of hide and seek. 

To make it easier for users to give feedback, the company is testing a new post design which will include a more prominent button to hide “irrelevant, problematic, or irritating” content and see less content like it in the future.

How This Will Affect Facebook Rankings

For now, it is unclear exactly how much this will change the content appearing in our news feeds every day. 

The company appears to know it has gained a nasty reputation for being overly political, sharing divisive information, and generally being a somewhat negative place to spend your time. 

Still, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to a massive shift or if these ranking signals will be too little to effectively change what gets highly ranked and what people are sharing on the platform in general.

“Overall, we hope to show people more content they want to see and find valuable, and less of what they don’t. While engagement will continue to be one of many types of signals we use to rank posts in News Feed, we believe these additional insights can provide a more complete picture of the content people find valuable, and we’ll share more as we learn from these tests.”

Facebook is launching a wave of new tools and features for businesses including the ability to schedule stories, manage photo albums, and better manage post drafts.

While some of the new Facebook Business Suite features revealed in a recent blog post are available to businesses everywhere now, the company also gave a peek into a few updates coming soon.

Schedule Your Stories on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook Business Suite already let brands schedule and manage traditional posts and content. Now, it is extending that functionality to Stories. 

Using Business Suite, you can start creating, publishing, and scheduling stories for both Facebook and Instagram from mobile and desktop devices. 

On desktop, simply click “Create Story” while using Business Suite. On the mobile app, you will find the feature by tapping the “Posts & Stories” tab.

Once you have opened the scheduling tool, follow these steps:

  • Select which platform (Facebook, Instagram, or both) you want to publish to.
  • Click Upload Media and select your photo or video.
  • Add text and stickers or crop your story.
  • Preview the content.
  • Click “Publish Story” to immediately share your story or click the blue arrow to expand the menu and select “Schedule Story” to decide when your story should go live. 

Edit Scheduled Posts

Along with scheduling your posts and stories, Business Suite now allows you to edit your scheduled content before it goes live. 

To make revisions or edits, go to the “Scheduled Posts” section of the “Posts & Stories” tab and simply select “Edit Post” on the specific content you want to change. 

Coming Soon: Create and Manage Albums

Soon, Business Suite will let brands create and manage photo albums within the “Posts & Stories” tab.

As the announcement says:

“Creating Albums is a useful and engaging way to showcase your business’ personality and share new products or services.”

Coming Soon: Save and Manage Content Drafts

The company teased that you will soon be able to create and edit drafts for drafts and stories and return to them later. However, it is unclear when this will roll out to the public.


With Facebook Analytics being shut down, Business Suite is becoming an essential tool for brands looking to manage their Facebook and Instagram presence in one place. Thankfully, it look like Facebook is similarly prioritizing making the platform as fully featured and versatile as possible before Analytics is gone for good.

Facebook is launching a massive overhaul of business and influencer Pages, including new features and tools to better connect with your customers and drive conversions. 

For influencers or individual entrepreneurs, the biggest change will likely be how Facebook displays your audience size. Instead of showing the total number of likes your page has, you will see your follower count.

While some might be frustrated to seemingly have their audience shrink suddenly, most agree that a Page’s follower count is a more important and informative metric. This is because your follower count tallies everyone who is actually receiving your posts or updates. Likes, on the other hand, include people who may have opted-out at some point in the past and don’t see anything your share. 

As for Business Pages, there are a number of new things you might be interested in. 

New Facebook Page Features and Tools

In the announcement, Facebook highlights five new features being introduced to Pages:

  • Dedicated News Feed
  • Easy navigation
  • Updated task-based admin controls
  • Actionable insights 
  • Safety and integrity features

Dedicated News Feeds

In the past, News Feeds were exclusively available to individual users, making it difficult to keep your public and private interests separate. Now, you have an entire feed specifically for your Page, so you can easily discover the latest news and trends from your community and business peers.

Additionally, Pages are being tweaked to showcase connections with other major influencers. If any public figures comment on your content, their interactions will get bumped to the top of your comment section. 

Easy Navigation

Another step towards making it easier to swap between your personal profile and Pages on the go is a redesigned navigation menu. 

By tapping the three-line icon on the bottom left of the main navigation menu, you can quickly select between your personal profile and content or features specifically related to your Page. 

Updated Task-Based Admin Controls

Facebook is making it easier to achieve your goals with specific admin control based on tasks. 

Now, you can assign a user a task and grant them specific levels of access to manage that task. 

For example, an individual can be granted access to tools specifically for Insights, Ads, Content, or Community Activity & Messages.

Actionable Insights

Facebook says it is bringing pages more actionable insights and more relevant notifications, though it provides no details about how this is being achieved. 

What we do know, from a new help page update, is that “Updated insights will help you understand your audience and how your content performs.”

Safety and Integrity Features

Lastly, Facebook is continuing its efforts to create a positive environment to connect with your fans and customers with new tools to identify spammy, hateful, or violent content. The platform says it is also working to crack down on impersonation, which has been a widespread issue recently across Facebook. 

For more information about the overhaul to Pages, read the full announcement here or explore the new help page.

As COVID-19 continues to be a major concern for people across the country, Facebook is introducing a new way for businesses and creators to monetize online events on the platform. 

Critically, the company says it will not collect any fees for paid events held on the platform to help businesses and individuals struggling during the pandemic. 

“Pages can host events on Facebook Live to reach broad audiences, and we’re testing paid events with Messenger Rooms for more personal and interactive gatherings.

In testing, we’ve seen businesses use Facebook to host expert talks, trivia events, podcast recordings, boxing matches, cooking classes, intimate meet-and-greets, fitness classes, and more.”

While Facebook is far from the first to offer a way to deliver paid events that are entirely streamed to attendees, their service is unique is the all-in-one nature. Facebook can handle not just the streaming, but payment, advertising, and organic word-of-mouth. 

To put it another way, a person can see the ad for your performance in their feed, make a payment, and view your event without ever leaving Facebook. The company is also one of the only services which does not take a cut of ticket sales. However, purchases made on Apple devices or through the iOS Store are still subject to Apple’s 30% fee. 

Prohibited Content

As with all content shared on Facebook, live events must stay within the Community Standards, Partner Monetization Policies, and Content Monetization Policies.

While these guidelines include the obvious things you might expect, such as banning hate speech, inciting violence, or “sexualized content”, the social network’s content policies prohibit some areas you may not expect. 

For example, promoting health products including medical masks and hand sanitizer is currently banned on Facebook. 

Other restricted categories include:

  • Debated social issues
  • Conflict or tragedy
  • Objectionable activity
  • Sexual or suggestive activity
  • Strong language
  • Explicit content
  • Misinformation
  • Misleading medical information
  • Politics and government

In addition to restricting these types of content, monetized events cannot include these some specific media:

  • Static videos
  • Static image polls
  • Slideshows of images
  • Looping videos
  • Text montages
  • Embedded ads

In the announcement, Facebook says the paid events will be available to brands and individuals for at least one year. After that, they may introduce new fees or even remove the service.