From major corporations to individuals, COVID-19 has affected all of us. Unfortunately for small businesses, this effect has been disproportionate.
The findings of Main Street America’s Small Business Survey predict that of America’s 30 million small businesses, nearly 3.5 million are at risk of permanently closing in the next two months and 7.5 million are at risk of permanently closing in the next five months¹. This has prompted many to rally around their favorite local businesses to do their part in keeping them afloat during this crisis.
Parallel to this jump in local-first sentiment is the steady increase in the use of Instagram’s Stories feature. Of the 500 million daily Stories users on the platform, one-third are businesses². Recognizing the significance of these coinciding trends, Instagram has added a variety of new tools to Stories for users to promote and interact with their favorite small businesses in a time of social distancing and uncertainty.
Their sponsored messaging options send direct messages to prospects through LinkedIn’s messaging platform. This keeps the prospects engaged and can help drive quality results, especially leads.
They currently have two messaging options, one is message ads, which are personalized direct messages, and then they have built conversation ads off of that initial offering, which engages more with prospects as they develop a conversation based on the user’s choices.
The video below shows you how the ads show up and interact with prospects:
Released in early April, Instagram added new gift card, food order, and fundraiser tools to Stories in its efforts to support small businesses. Both the gift card and food order tools provide users with a simple way to make purchases through the restaurant’s site launching directly from a tappable sticker in the business’s Story post. As for the fundraiser tool, fundraisers being run through Facebook’s business fundraiser tool can be directly linked to via a Story sticker as well.
As of May, Instagram has released a user-driven business profile sharing sticker for Stories. This sticker enables a user to share a favorite business’s Instagram profile on their personal Story. Each sticker contains a header and three image preview with pictures taken recently from the business’s page. These stickers are great ways to drive organic traffic to a business as it links back to the business’s own Instagram page with a single tap. It is worth noting that although the sticker itself says “Support Small Businesses” when selected, a user can technically add any business account from an individual user with an account set to “Just for fun” to a giant company like Target.
Although Instagram Stories may not single-handedly save small businesses in the face of COVID-19, we do believe that this is an effective strategy to drive business results. As mentioned earlier, two-thirds of Instagram’s daily users are personal accounts rather than business accounts so it makes sense that Instagram would provide such a large segment of consumers the ability to organically promote their favorite businesses. If you are a small business owner, you should go try out these new Story tools for yourself!
For more information, see Instagram’s blog on how to help small businesses here.
Written by Harrison Sharp