Social media giant Facebook is chipping in to help small businesses as they begin the long road to recovery from COVID-19 restrictions.
After weeks of strict lock down rules, many small businesses and local stores have taken a major hit. On Instagram, businesses will now be able add a gift card sticker to stories and also a button for their business profile page.
Each time someone sees a story with these stickers or goes to the business profile page, they can tap through to complete a purchase on the website of the chosen platform. Instagram is also launching a new “Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram which lets people give their favourite business a shout out. The feature aims to create raise awareness of local businesses among the local community.
All the accounts a person follows will be added to a shared Instagram story when the sticker is used, allowing people to see the different businesses that people are supporting. Parent company Facebook is testing the feature to allow users to access gift cards from participating merchants in their cities through a “Support Local Businesses” promotion. The new features are designed to deliver desperately needed cash flow to small businesses and encourage local community support by sharing recommendations through social media.
For chef and restaurant owner, Michael Rantissi, who operates Kepos St Kitchen Sydney’s inner west, it’s been a tough few months, and any support is welcome news. “I thought this was going to be record year, and it turned out to be my floppiest year yet”.
“It was and still is very challenging. When you walk in and look at your own venue and you look around and there’s no one in your restaurant, you’re heartbroken because your life’s work is being demolished front of your eyes.”
Mr Rantissi said the pandemic took everyone by surprise, and the impact on businesses has been devastating. “It only takes a very short period of time to cause the damage it has. The impact of 10 weeks was just phenomenal and none of us were ready for it.”
As a result, Mr Rantissi decided to close for four weeks to re-assess how they would handle the pandemic. “We had to set it all back and look at it from a different perspective. We had to work out how you translate food that looks good on a white plate to make it look good in a plastic container,” Mr Rantissi said.
For him, social media is the new superpower he never thought he’d need. “The amount of things I’ve learnt to do on social media in the last couple of weeks I never would have before. The strength and power of social media is remarkable,” he said.
“There have been times where I’ve posted a photo of a cake and by 9am when we open it’s sold out just by looking at social media.” Mr Rantissi said he is grateful for the support of the community and hopes a slight increase in business over previous days is a sign of better things to come.
Melinda Petrunoff, Director of Small Business for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, said the new features provide a simple way for everyone to contribute support to the businesses struggling due to the pandemic. “This is way for people to raise awareness of the small businesses they care about and show some appreciation for what really is the backbone of our community and economy,” said Ms Petfunoff.
After the stay at home sticker was released in March, it was used more than 100 million times in a week. In Australia, 97 per cent of Instagram users follow a small business and more than a million stories are created every day in Australia alone.
“Imagine if everyone created a story and used the sticker for a small business? It’s got the power to drive a huge amount of awareness to small businesses and really make a significant difference,” Ms Petfunoff said.
This article was originally published on nine.com.au here.