Home Articles & Features When Facebook went down, what did people ‘really’ do?

When Facebook went down, what did people ‘really’ do?

Leeds marketing agency, The Marketing Optimist wanted to find out exactly what people did when Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went offline for 6 hours on October 4th 2021.

Their poll, completely by 1,500 people in the UK over the age of 18, showed that contrary to what the media reported, the majority of the public didn’t panic when the social media channels temporarily vanished.

The agency’s survey, run over several days on Google, asked, “When Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp crashed, which social media channels did you switch to?”

From a list of leading social media channels, and a few alternative options, over 76% of respondents answered “None, I made better use of my time”.


Richard Michie, CEO of The Marketing Optimist said, “We really didn’t expect this result at all. We ran the survey hoping to find out which social media channels people switched to when the main ones went down. Our survey shows that contrary to popular belief, the UK public aren’t as obsessed with social media as we are led to believe, and that businesses who place all their marketing focus on social media should think again and ensure they have other options available.”

The results were not confined to age, with 12.25% of 18 -24 year olds and 12.47% of 55 – 64 year olds giving the same answer. The results were very similar across all age groups.

Richard continued “Again, this was a surprising result. The media constantly tells us that GenZ, and Millennials are addicted to social media and can’t live without access to it. Had the outage been confined to Facebook alone, we would have expected the result of our survey, as users on that platform are now older. But as it included Instagram too, which is typically used heavily by younger users, it was interesting to see.”

Of the social media channels we gave as options on our poll, Twitter was the post popular choice, with 10% of people saying that they switched to the platform for the night, followed by 3.2% who spent the outage on TikTok.

All the data from the survey can be found on The Marketing Optimist website.

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