The COVID-19 crisis has brought unimaginable losses to many industries, livelihoods, and businesses across the country, especially small businesses. While these businesses wait on loans, grants, and other federal government funding, there has been a movement from influencers to adapt to new content strategies that are increasingly catered to their local communities, charities, and other small businesses. Similarly, social media platforms have introduced a slew of new features and updates–helping to increase the visibility and meet the demands of consumers in their communities.
Influencers rally like-minded influencers
Influencers started leveraging the power of their communities and voices to bring awareness around businesses impacted. While it may not feel as obvious, influencers have predominantly functioned as small businesses themselves and with 80% of Americans seeking recommendations before making a purchase, influencers have a massive opportunity to rally and create momentum for their communities and in turn themselves.
Danielle Bernstein of @weworewhat launched a platform for charitable initiatives and small businesses via @wegavewhat. The initiative started as a response to COVID-19, but has proven to be much greater. She has called upon other influencers to use their reach for good and emphasizes how one post can make a huge difference for a struggling business. Bernstein is leveraging the reach of 2.5MM+ followers to do something very unique and will hopefully set a precedent with other macro influencers.
Similarly, but in a more grassroots approach, the #Donate1post campaign launched by Martin Ekechukwu, calls for influencers and public figures to help small businesses by donating one or more posts to help reach their audiences. Mega influencers are stepping up to help during these difficult times, including Yvonne Orji, actress HBO’s Insecure is donating one post to her 700k+ followers.
Pinterest provides resources for businesses and shoppers
At the beginning of April, Pinterest shared that searches for “support small business” had increased 351% over the initial month of statewide lockdowns. In support of this trend, Pinterest created a number of resources for small business owners and creators, and increased the number of small businesses as part of their Verified Merchant Program. Verified Merchants display a special blue checkmark on their profiles, and become eligible for increased distribution within high-intent shopping experiences and metrics like conversion reporting.
Shopping options for Pinners were also expanded to reflect local businesses that match their behaviors including touchpoints at search, boards, Pins, and guides. Further, the Pinterest Shop, a standalone board on the Pinterest account, curated businesses that were in line with current search trends. Most recently, Pinterest has collaborated with the Stand for Small collective, along with American Express and 40 other companies, opening the doors to SMBs beyond Main Street, meeting the demands of consumers, and creating a space for business owners to reach new audiences.
YouTube supports content creation
To enable businesses for more creative capabilities, YouTube has been working on creating a tool for businesses to develop quality video content more efficiently, even if businesses do not have access to video editing equipment. The video platform accelerated the release of this tool to help meet the needs of small businesses during COVID-19.
Further, as influencers are experiencing similar cost-cutting measures as traditional small businesses, there may be a pivot to evolve content creation for their projects. Leveraging the YouTube resources provided by the platform could be a great way for influencers to not only expand their skill set, but also offer additional services to brand partnerships, potentially even bypassing agencies for content creation.
Facebook launches multiple initiative s for uses and businesses
Facebook and Instagram empower local discovery and fundraising. With over 13MM uses of #SupportSmallBusiness on Instagram, it is no surprise that Facebook has continued to roll out updates, features, and technology to drive awareness and support. Most recently, a new section was added on Facebook for Businesses Nearby, which will allow users to see the latest posts from businesses within a certain geographic radius (with the capabilities to adjust from 1 mile to 500 miles), view their current hours and pickup/delivery options, make a booking, or send them a message.
Instagram has rolled out its small support update last month as well. The platform launched the ability to discover and purchase gift cards, online food orders, and increase the ease to contribute to fundraisers. Businesses are now able to share new gift cards, food orders, and fundraiser stickers in Stories and on their profiles. While continuing to roll out additional stickers in Stories, users can also add a ‘Support Sticker’ @-mentioning the name of the small business to their Stories.
Unlike restaurants that have been able to access customers through take out and delivery, brick and mortar retailers are forced to close physical stores and need options to generate revenue to help offset some of their losses. With this in mind, Facebook introduced a simpler way to create a fundraiser, by adding a new option to its personal fundraising functionalities, enabling business owners to create personal fundraisers to call on their customers for support.
The future is uncertain for many industries and businesses–yet opportunities continue to present themselves for consumers to be more mindful, aware, and supportive of what they can find locally, all with the help of the resources they use daily. The added bonus of influencers and their reach to create new content and support, could see an interesting shift in relying on Main Street rather than larger ecommerce corporations and conglomerates.
Masha Murakhovsky is a Social Strategy Director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and visit her at www.mashadanielle.com.