New Facebook and Instagram Updates to Help Local Businesses

The past few months have been a whirlwind for families and businesses alike. With stay-at-home orders in place and mandatory business shutdowns, consumers have flocked to social media for information, communication, entertainment, and shopping. Two of the largest social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook, have been right alongside us adjusting to the pandemic too. 

Both Instagram and Facebook have released new features and updates within the last couple months that not only show support for small businesses, but also for individual users dealing with this global crisis. Whether you’re a consumer curious about the new Facebook updates or a local business looking to optimize your marketing strategy, here is everything you need to know about the most recent Instagram and Facebook updates and their impact on consumer relations.

New Facebook Updates

Businesses Nearby

This new Facebook update introduces a section to the platform called “Businesses Nearby.” Users who visit the section can see the latest posts from local businesses (mile radius can be adjusted), view their current hours and takeout options, send them a message, and make reservations. The purpose of this new update is to help support local businesses by increasing their virtual foot traffic as they move online while also making it easier for customers to find the essential products and services they need when at home. 

Business Inbox

If you go into Facebook’s Messenger app, you’ll see that there is now a special Business Inbox. This new Facebook update was created in support of small businesses to make it easier for them to quickly and efficiently communicate with their customers. Any questions sent to a business’s Facebook page will show up in their Business Inbox where they can then respond. The feature also allows them to tag all their COVID-19 related posts from the Page Composer.

Hashtags & Tags

In addition to Messenger and Businesses Nearby, Facebook has also shown their support for small businesses by launching “Support Small Business” hashtags and tags. Both of these features (hashtags and tags) have proven to increase brand awareness, audience reach, and overall connection with consumers. While #SupportSmallBusiness is now going viral, users can further help their favorite brands by incorporating the “in support of” tag in their post about a specific business.

Business Resources Hub

In an effort to keep businesses successful and connected to their consumers, the new Facebook update “Business Resources Hub” has come to life. The Hub aims to inform small businesses and their communities by providing the latest COVID-19 official information. Along with that, Business Resources Hub provides tips and training on how local businesses can maintain a healthy relationship with their consumers during the pandemic.

Recent Instagram Updates

Support Small Business Sticker

Much like that of Facebook’s #SupportSmallBusiness, one of the most recent Instagram updates involves the “Support Small Business” sticker that can be used in Instagram stories. All posts using this sticker are now added to a shared Instagram story highlighting similar posts from other accounts you follow. This update has the same purpose (increased brand awareness and audience reach) as Facebook’s hashtag.

Online Direct Messages 

Direct messages or DM’s are commonly used within the Instagram app as a way to personally communicate with different users and brands. In the past, DM’s were only accessible via the Instagram app, but a recent Instagram update has changed the game. Brands can now view and respond to direct messages online through the desktop version of the app. 

The impact of this update is expected to be quite extensive for brands and account managers running social media profiles. Typing, copying, pasting, and customizing responses is much easier on the computer than it is on a smartphone, which means customer relationship management will now be a quicker process. In turn, customer service is set to improve significantly for brands that take advantage of this feature.

Partnerships through Stories

Just as communities are coming together during this crisis, a recent Instagram update is supporting local businesses by allowing partnerships through stories. Businesses can now partner up with a select list of companies (Postmates and GiftUp! are a couple of examples) and use new interactive story stickers to increase awareness of their current business offerings.

Businesses can share three different story stickers - Gift Card, Food Order, and Donation - that take viewers to specified links. Brand supporters can join in on the cause by re-sharing these stickers in their own stories to spread the word. 

Profile CTAs

In combination with story partnerships, an extension to the recent Instagram update is new profile buttons. Just as businesses can advertise gift cards, food orders, and donation stickers on their stories, they can now do the same with permanent profile buttons. This is a great option for users who aren’t too familiar with stories or happen to miss a business’s story on a particular day. They can easily visit their profile and find the links there instead.

Even though these are challenging times for both businesses and consumers, it’s comforting to know that we’re all in it together. Social media is the powerhouse of communication in today’s digital age and Facebook and Instagram in particular are using their resources to show their full support for local business during the crisis. REQ is working with our clients to help them take advantage of these new features and use them as tools to learn, inform, and communicate in a time when we need it most.

Let’s talk.