The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on small businesses. And the impact is showing on social media platforms as well. Brands are posting less and spending less on social ads. Consequently, their revenue and engagement from social have plunged drastically.
In our COVID-19 Marketing Survey, we found that 65% of marketers have witnessed a noticeable decline in revenue, 74% have reduced their posting frequency, and 69% have decreased their ad spend since the outbreak.
Clearly, marketers and brands are taking it easy on social media.
For Instagram, this period has not been pleasant.
34% of the respondents in our survey stated that they shifted their focus from Instagram to Twitter. As a result, there has been a drop of 14% in follower engagement on Instagram. Although we suspect this trend is because Twitter is more news-focused, it’s not good news for Instagram.
In a bid to engage users and voice a strong social message, Instagram has launched a couple of COVID-19-related stickers this month. After the “Thank You” and “Stay Home” stickers, the latest addition on Instagram’s sticker console is the “Support Small Business” stickers.
The Stay Home stickers were all about social isolating and Thank You stickers were about showing gratitude to corona frontline warriors. The Support Small Business stickers, as the name suggests, are about showering love on small-sized businesses that are bearing the brunt of the lockdown.
In this article, we will explain how you can use Support Small Business stickers to show love to the businesses you follow. We will also talk about how businesses can leverage these stickers to earn new followers and nurture old ones.
How to Use Instagram’s New Support Small Business Sticker:
What Are Instagram’s New Support Small Business Stickers?
On May 11, 2020, Instagram launched their Support Small Business Stickers.
The Instagram Business team said in their official announcement:
With the new "Support small business" sticker on Instagram, people can easily show their love for businesses in Stories. They can mention businesses directly in the sticker to give their followers a preview of the account. When people use the sticker, their story will be added to a shared Instagram story, so their followers can see it along with other businesses that people they follow are supporting.
The shared Instagram story displays in the Stories section of the user who created it and the user’s followers.
The stickers will help people discover new small businesses and businesses to discover new prospective customers.
How Can You Use Support Small Business Stickers?
Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow to use the Support Small Business sticker.
Step 1: Click on the plus sign next to your avatar to add a new story. By default, this will open the camera in “front-face” selfie mode.
Step 2: You can add a photo or video of you using the products of the small business you want to support. Or, you can click a selfie and upload it to the Story. You can also add multiple pictures in a single Story and insert the Support Small Business Sticker for different businesses in each picture.
Step 3: Once you’re satisfied with the image/video you want in your Story, click-open the Stickers tray and select the Support Small Business sticker from it. You can also add multiple stickers to your picture, but don’t clutter the interface too much.
Step 4: Type the name of the small business you are supporting.
Step 5: You can add more styles and filters to the sticker by tapping on it.
Step 6: Once you publish the Story, it will be added to the Stories section. Your followers can click on the Story and view the businesses you support.
How Can Brands Leverage Support Small Business Stickers?
Brands can get added visibility through these stickers. They can also build their online presence on Instagram. A small business that earns loads of appreciation from their followers will naturally find it easier to attract new followers, investors, influencers, and collaborators.
Here’s how it all happens.
When a user’s followers click the shared Story, a small pop-up appears, carrying a brief description of the business tagged with the sticker.
The pop-up contains two options, namely “Visit Profile” and “Following.”
As you can see, the stickers will help people discover and connect with small businesses related to their interests. Since brands have more or less halted their advertising on social channels, these stickers can help them remain visible and relevant during this difficult time.
Brands can also message followers who posted these stickers and nurture their relationships further. They can also reach out to the people who liked the Story and earn new followers or leads in the process.
It’s also an opportunity for brands to connect with other relevant small businesses. They can give shoutouts to entrepreneurs in their domain and lay the foundation for mutually beneficial relationships with them.
So, Support Small Business stickers can become an effective brand-building strategy for small-scale businesses who otherwise find it difficult to shine on the saturated platform.
How Is Instagram Supporting Small Businesses?
Instagram, like all progressive brands, believes that brands that deliver real value to their customers and act responsibly, earn customer trust in the long term.
A Kantar survey on customer expectations from brands during COVID-19 found that the way a brand behaves during crisis periods is likely to affect their relationship with the brand in the future. It also found that brands that delivered value in an ethical manner were 2X more respected by customers than brands that don’t.
That’s why Instagram has come up with a set of new tools and resources to keep small businesses connected with their customers and communities during this time of isolation. They have put together the Instagram for Business COVID-19 Playbook.
The playbook contains hacks and how-to guides about using the platform’s digital tools and keeping communication lines open.
Instagram recommends that brands need to be digital-savvy in order to stay connected with their customers. Brands should strive to educate and inform their customers about how they can shop online in this period.
Brands can make use of the following features to boost their digital presence:
- Instagram Live: Behind-the-scene (BTS) videos and webinars with experts to keep customers engaged and informed.
- Instagram Shopping: Shopping tags and stickers to drive sales.
- IGTV: Use long-form videos to educate people about your services or products.
One inspiring example in the playbook is of oliveandjune. The manicurist duo conducts manicure bootcamps on Instagram Live.
No wonder why they were sold out before the director said cut!
In their Playbook, Instagram lists some tips for brands to optimize their profiles to make them more shoppable:
- Include your website URL in your bio
- Mention your store operation times if you’re opening your store for limited hours
- Highlight if you’re offering free delivery or have pick-up spots
- Promote gift cards and offers to entice shoppers to stay at home and shop
- Use shopping tags so that people can shop right from their accounts
- Post about the special measures you are taking to help the society and corona warriors.
Take inspiration from @chipotle. They have started free delivery and launched a mobile app so that people can enjoy spicy treats without stepping out of their homes.
Brands on Instagram are thinking of creative ways to keep their business running while acting responsibly. To encourage them, Instagram’s @shop page gives small businesses regular shoutouts.
One brand that has taken Instagram’s advice to heart is butter_and. They have come up with small cakes that people can send to their loved ones to show that they care. The cakes are frosted with things like “don’t touch your face” or “stay at home.”
Writing a message on a cake is good. But doing something more concrete like a fundraiser is even better. And small businesses on Instagram are putting forth their socially-responsible side by doing just that.
@anomalie, a wedding courtier, raised funds by hosting a fundraiser on Instagram. They used the money collected to get manufacturers in their supply chain to make surgical masks for nurses battling COVID-19.
It was a fantastic way of utilizing resources and mobilizing support for a worthy cause. Instagram users are bound to remember the brand for their good deed when the good times return.
COVID-19 has created a sense of disconnection, fear, and insecurity among people. It’s as important to remain connected as it is to remain safe in this period. Instagram’s Support Small Business is an effective tactic for businesses to remain relevant and connected with their Instagram communities.