Facebook and Instagram's Covid-19 Resources for Small Businesses: Everything You Need to Know
Last week, Facebook unveiled the new “care” reaction emoji designed to help users share their feelings during the Covid-19 pandemic. This addition is just one in a series of steps that Facebook and Instagram have taken to be more relevant to their users during this time. Like other corporations, social platforms have been affected by the changes in our habits in the last months. All of them are looking for ways to respond and become relevant at this time. Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok also have reasons for concern with the possible loss of their income from small business advertisers.
As a result of the crisis, Facebook, and Instagram (also owned by the Facebook company) published a report with official recommendations to help small businesses improve their digital strategy. Beyond advice on producing relevant content, both networks released new features to help small businesses reach their audiences and engage with potential customers. Facebook went even further and pledged to give out financial support, grants, and advertising coupons to small businesses.
So what do you need to know about Facebook and Instagram’s recommendations, and how can small businesses make use of the tools Facebook created for them? We round-up everything you should note:
Creating Positive Content
If there’s one thing we can already say for sure about the pandemic is that we all became more dependant on our social network avatars. The long hours of isolation at home drove people across the globe to spend more time on Instagram and TikTok and become more engaged in digital communities on Facebook and Whatsapp. All social networks noted an increase in activity and the need for pleasant and calming content. Instagram went as far as to officially encourage users to use the hashtag #calmingcontent in their posts.
Group video chats, digital courses, and webinars have become a big part of our life in the pandemic. Instagram encourages the use of Instagram Live – its built-in tool for broadcasting live to your Instagram followers. You can go live directly from the Stories interface and save all broadcasts as videos to your Instagram Highlights. Once you go live, your followers get a notification – and that’s a great way to get their attention.
Instagram also detailed the types of content it recommends for live videos. Among the ideas that they mention: Q&A about your products, live broadcasting from your service, partnering with an influencer who will feature your product, and giving viewers a behind the scenes view of your business.
Digital Customer Service
Facebook has been an essential tool for customer service for many years. But now, in a time of social distancing, businesses need to be more available to their customers online. Two new features can help:
- Instagram Direct – Instagram’s messaging inbox is now accessible from your desktop to make it easier to correspond with customers and answer questions.
- If your business opening hours or service availability have been affected by Covid-19, you can update your followers by adjusting your Facebook page settings. See here for more information on how it works.
Facebook unveiled a new feature that allows users to ask for donations for various causes. It’s still unclear how exactly it will be used, but it’s interesting to see whether they will develop a crowdsourcing tool to rival other popular platforms. See more info about it here.
Creating engaging stories has never been as important as now for Content makers. Instagram has already released several Covid-19 specific stickers for Stories, and more will follow. It’s essential to keep up with these little features, because, as always with Instagram, adopting innovations is encouraged by the algorithm.
Here are a few especially promising stickers you should know:
- Takeaway and Giftcard Stickers – allow businesses to include a direct link from their story to their profile on a partner app
- Positive message stickers – promote messages like stay home.
- The FAQ sticker that can be used to start a conversation with your followers.
- DM ME sticker with a direct link to the message box
Facebook's Plan to Support Small Businesses
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook pledged 100 Million dollars in grants and coupons for small businesses. US businesses with 2-50 employees who’ve been hurt by the crisis can apply to receive support. If you’re not in the US or not sure whether you’re eligible to apply, go here to check to see the situation in your country.