Social Media for Small Businesses
Social media updates are constantly updating and changing, therefore it is extremely important for small business owners who run social media pages to stay on top of all these updates. Why? Well, as these social platforms update their software they may prioritise certain posts over others, or may stay away from certain content limiting the amount of people saying the post and ultimately your page. So, understanding these updates will benefit your social media strategy. Facebook is slowly starting to integrate Instagram, making it easier for businesses to manage both. And Google has done some changes to its marketplace to help small businesses survive the change. We have curated below, a list of the main changes, and how they can help you with your business.
INSTAGRAM UPDATES For Social Media
Instagram has been working on supporting small businesses for a while now, by actively encouraging users to share their favourite businesses. They have been doing this with special stickers designed to help businesses increase their “reach”. Instagram has also been encouraging spending in these small stores by increasing the convenience to shoppers through its new buttons, and Instagram shop.
COVID-19 and social distancing have forced businesses to update their normal sales models to an online presence. To keep up, giants like Facebook and Google have adjusted their services also.
1- New Buttons: “Donate”, “Gift Card”, and “Food Orders” stickers facilitating customer purchases.
The Instagram story tray now offers “Gift Card”, “Donate” or “Food Orders” story stickers. These stickers are available for business accounts only. All you need to do is choose a delivery partner and add a link to your product. After that, users can buy from you by just clicking on your Stories. These are brilliant for small business owners, you can post as many items as you want on your stories, they will be there for 24 hours. And, best of all, you can keep reposting them without spamming your followers. People who lazily click through your stories are more likely to purchase something if it is right there!
2- Support Small Business Button.
Instagram story tray has also made a special “support small business stickers”. These work differently to the other stickers mentioned above, these stickers are available to businesses AND non-businesses.
This sticker allows users to tag and share small businesses, and give their followers a preview of the business’s account. When people use the sticker in a story, the story will be added to a shared “Support Small Business” Instagram story. This means that the sharer’s followers can see the shared business along with other business people in that circle support. To put it in layman’s terms: the button is designed to provide free marketing. It allows you to reach a new audience. You can share other businesses using the button, and they can share you sharing them… sharing.
3- Instagram shop made more accessible.
Instagram shop now has a shopping tab accessible via the main grid on any business account. This shop is combined with the Facebook shop. Businesses can post a product as a post on their Instagram account and it will allow users to purchase the item directly from the post. Instagram is now also allowing anyone with a Facebook and Instagram business account and one eligible product to sell on Instagram. Right now Facebook has waived its commission fee until December 31st, 2020. So now is a good time to get started and build up a base before having to pay.
Facebook has been updating itself to be more integrated with Instagram, as well as creating new features to help cater to new demands since the lockdown. One big feature that has been a phenomenon of COVID, is the use of video conferencing as a replacement for most day to day socializing and work. To help provide another convenient platform for video conferencing Facebook has bought in some new features and has revived some old features.
1- Messenger Rooms.
They’re similar to Zoom rooms, you just don’t have to schedule them. These rooms allow users to add up to 50 users at a time with no time limit. You can also invite anyone from any of your favorite apps, just send them a link. Users don’t even need an account. Facebook messenger rooms are also free. This allows businesses to hold conferences without having to pay or obey time constraints, making organizing much more convenient.
2- Live events.
These are the equivalent of live YouTube streams. Viewers can watch on a tablet, phone, or, laptop. These are invaluable for businesses that run workshops and classes. You can now schedule and hold your classes without breaking any lockdown rules. Other businesses that do not provide that type of service usually, can still up their engagement and create new opportunities to interact using these live events.
3- Live stream movies with friends
Facebook watch allows you to both stream movies and Livestream chat with friends at the same time. This may not be at first obviously useful to businesses, but maybe if you are an independent filmmaker or a content creator of that sort, you could hold premiers or work with that tool.
As mentioned previously Facebook is integrating Instagram in a big way to help business owners sell on both of these platforms.
4 – Facebook/ shop.
Facebook Shops is a mobile-first shopping experience where businesses can easily create an online store on Facebook and Instagram for free. “Shops” let businesses choose which of their items they want to feature, merchandise with product collections, and tell their brand story with customizable fonts and colors. In Facebook Shops, businesses can connect with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct to answer questions, offer support, and more.
The commission fee is waived until December 31 2020. It is normally 5% per shipment or a flat fee of USD 0.40 for shipments of USD 8.00 or less.
3- Business suite.
Facebook business suite is for small businesses only. This tool allows businesses to have all of the controls over their Facebook and Instagram business pages in one place. This is more convenient for a business owner, as you can see what’s working and what’s not at a glance, as opposed to having to compare two different sets of data and guess.
Google has also made changes to its marketplace, both out of necessity and out of a desire to be helpful to small businesses.
1-. 0% commission fee
In general, commission rates for products “Sold on Google” range from5-15% with a mode average of 12%. But good news! Google is no longer charging a commission fee! kinda. This only applies to the businesses that use ‘Buy on Google’ listings, available via search results, and in dedicated shopping displays. New businesses will be asked if they want to apply for this service and old ones can swap over to this new service over a few weeks
This new measure should help small businesses. BUT! It has the disadvantage that fewer customers will go to the actual business website. Customers choosing instead, to purchase straight from the google search page.
2- Allowing free listing.
Google is also making it free for merchants to sell directly on Google. Search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. Retailers can connect with millions of potential customers via free listings even if they don’t. This new update puts merchants on equal footing and makes it easier to switch to online sales. So basically as a small business owner, you are given a free platform to advertise, which is gold!
3- Up to date Google profiles
Google is encouraging businesses to update their page and is asking brands affected by the crisis to label themselves as “temporarily closed”. This is to encourage frank communication, between customers and businesses. Google emphasizes that listing as ‘temporarily closed’ will NOT lead to a decrease in local search ranking.
4- Small Business filter on Google shopping tab
Google’s also looking to add a new small business filter on the Google Shopping tab, so people can purposely choose to search small businesses as opposed to just searching through the big online stores.
Basically, Facebook and Google are currently providing a new free market place, where they encourage small businesses by giving them extra marketing and pushes for free. These new online social media marketplaces exist in China and are immensely powerful and popular. Many businesses over there run almost exclusively via social media apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. It looks increasingly that for the sake of convenience, business is moving digital. So take the leap!
Start now and catch the incentives, who knows how long they will last. You can start small, and slowly build up with the platform. Facebook and Google are currently desperately trying to get people to join and will probably be rolling out more business beneficial schemes in the near future as these lockdowns continue. Remember, the famous quote: “shoot enough arrows at it, one of them is bound to hit!”