Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, many businesses around the world have been financially affected. With storefronts being forced to close due to safety protocols, businesses have had to make difficult decisions that ranged from laying off staff, to even permanently closing. In Canada, there have been a number of major retailers that have filed for creditor protection, some of which include DavidsTea and Aldo, as reported by CTV.
While large companies may have the capacity to downsize by reducing their number of stores, for small businesses, this is not an option. Small businesses have arguably faced a tougher challenge in staying afloat during COVID-19. According to Statistics Canada, the revenue for small businesses are down by more than 20 percent in Q1-2020 compared to last year, during Q1-2019. In addition, 40 percent of small businesses reported having to request credit from financial institutions to cover operating costs as a result of COVID-19.
Given how difficult it is for small businesses to thrive without customers being able to shop in-store, some businesses have turned to social media marketing. During the last few months, major social media platforms have created new resources to support small businesses. In this blog, we will explore the resources provided by these social media platforms, and how small businesses can take advantage of them.
Last week, Facebook announced a new feature called the Facebook Business Suite. This new interface allows business owners to conveniently post for Facebook and Instagram simultaneously. In addition, users can also manage messages and alerts, and access insights for both Facebook and Instagram in the new feature. According to Facebook, the Facebook Business Suite is currently being prioritized for small businesses, as they currently have access to use this new interface. Larger businesses on the other hand, will have to wait until next year to use this feature.
This feature is in addition to Facebook Shops, which was released earlier this year. This allows business owners to set up an online shop on Facebook and Instagram, which makes it easier for customers to shop for products on these social media platforms.
Back in April, Instagram released a COVID-19 resource directory which makes it easier for business owners to navigate the options they have in managing their business during difficult times. In addition, Instagram released a “support small businesses” sticker which allows users to spread brand awareness for small businesses. When Instagram users add this sticker, it then gets added to their Instagram story, which lets their followers see the name of the business and the business page that they have.
It is important to remember that some of the features above from Facebook also apply to Instagram. For instance, the Facebook Shops feature is also applicable to Instagram, since businesses on Instagram have been granted the same feature which allows users to shop directly on the app.
While Twitter has not released any new features to primarily help small businesses, the platform did release an information page which recommends steps that small businesses owners can take during the pandemic. Among these recommendations are four tips that Twitter outlines businesses should consider when tweeting during COVID-19. These tips include keeping up with current events, and being genuine when tweeting to your audience.
In addition, the information page from Twitter also includes educational resources such as Twitter Flight School which explores best practices in managing advertising and content delivery on the platform. It also includes ideas for Tweets and stories from other small businesses who have been successful in using Twitter.
In early April, Pinterest launched a new feature which allowed users to shop on the platform. What makes this shopping feature beneficial to small businesses is that Pinterest optimized the search results for customers to be equally balanced between small and large businesses. This pretty much means that large businesses will not always be at the top of the search results when a customer is looking for a particular product.
Much like Twitter, Pinterest also released an information page of resources available to its users. This information page includes tools and educational resources to better understand how Pinterest works, and what small businesses can do to make the most out of it.
While using TikTok to promote a business is still an up and coming endeavour for marketers, the platform released a new feature called the TikTok Back-to-Business Program back in July. This new program was designed for small businesses who struggled as a result of COVID-19. TikTok is giving away $100 million in advertising credits for small businesses in order to promote on the platform.
This program is an extension of TikTok For Business which also includes the TikTok Self-Serve Advertising Tools which were designed with small businesses in mind. It includes creative tools and performance targeting which allows small businesses who intend to advertise to reach the audiences they are looking for.
LinkedIn has created a resource page for small businesses who are struggling due to COVID-19. This resource page includes learning courses that users can take in order to better understand how their business can adapt during the pandemic. In addition, the platform also released a LinkedIn Page guide for small businesses to consider in order to understand how they can utilize LinkedIn for their business.
While LinkedIn did not release a specialized tool for small businesses, the platform is focused on educating users on the actions they can take on the platform, and beyond – which the company discusses on their small business livestream.
Qode Social is a Toronto-based social media marketing agency that specializes in community building, account growth, ad analysis, Facebook and Instagram support, and more. Led by experienced social media experts, Qode Social has worked with companies such as Gay Lea Foods, Days Inn Canada, TP-Link and more. Qode Social is a division of Qode Media, which is the parent company that focuses on SEO and graphic design.