Instagram and parent company Facebook unveiled several updates Monday aimed at helping small and midsized businesses cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
The Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network said in a blog post Monday, “Businesses are facing immense challenges during the Covid-19 crisis, and supporting them is critical to the well-being of entrepreneurs, communities and the economy. As many stores remain closed and social media serves as an online Main Street, the shift to doing business online is more urgent than ever. Today, we’re announcing new ways for people to support and discover small businesses, along with more tools for keeping businesses informed and connected with their customers.”
Instagram debuted a Support Small Business sticker that users can incorporate into their Stories to shout out their favorite small businesses, and other Instagram users will be able to see who is using the sticker via a shared Story, raising awareness and visibility for those businesses.
When someone uses the sticker, their Story will be added to the shared Story and, if a business is mentioned, that business can repost the content to its own Stories or message people who tagged them.
A #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag was also introduced for parent company Facebook’s flagship application, and creators on the social network can add an in support of tag to support SMBs.
Instagram also reminded users that Facebook’s Businesses Nearby feature can be used to find information on which local businesses are still providing goods and services, message those businesses and buy from them via third-party apps, giving those businesses more virtual foot traffic.
Businesses on Instagram and Facebook can access Covid-19-related information, business tools and best practices via shortcuts in the Facebook app and business profiles on Instagram.
Messenger From Facebook is in on the corporate synergy, as well, as a dedicated business inbox in the messaging app and an updated chat plugin will enable businesses to respond to messages from their pages directly in Messenger and give people a way to chat with businesses on their websites without requiring a Facebook account.
Businesses on Facebook can also tag posts related to Covid-19 on their pages in order to keep people updated.
Instagram chief operating officer Justin Osofsky said, “We want to do everything we can to support small businesses right now, whether that’s building new tools to help them stay in touch with customers or giving people the power to easily show their love to businesses they care about. Every bit of support counts right now—we’re making progress with these updates, but our work is far from finished.”