In 2020, we have had to re-evaluate the way we shop, what we do with our disposable income, and who we support. While the economic impact of this past year has done sincere harm to many small businesses, it has also highlighted their importance and their positive roles in our economies and our communities.
Today, on Buy Nothing Day, we want to celebrate small businesses. But can we support them without spending money, even as they struggle to keep their doors open? Is that even possible?
Yes, it’s possible, and yes, it’s very helpful.
Engage with small business social posts
Lately, social media algorithms have greatly favoured posts from personal rather than business accounts. Liking, sharing, commenting, or saving posts from small businesses helps the post to be flagged as quality, and increases visibility. This reach results in more eyes on their products, less money spent on ad campaigns, and more sales.
More than ever before, people can check reviews and vet businesses before ever visiting them. Unfortunately the trend is to leave more bad reviews than good ones, and this can have a massive impact on how the business is perceived by people looking for small businesses to support. In leaving a good review, we can help to ensure the attraction of new customers. It also helps boost search engine optimization rankings, increasing their likelihood of being found by customers!
Mention you went there to others
We often see people tag the places that they frequently visit. This acts as a reminder to other customers that the company is open or exists. For those who don’t use social media, using face-to-face interactions is helpful, mentioning where we recently visited. In these times, it can be challenging to figure out which businesses are open, and which are closed. By helping remind people that your favourite businesses are open and that you enjoyed your time there, you are helping remind them that the company is a viable option next time they are out!
Use their hashtag, and tag your photos.
Sharing your experience by tagging your photos and using their hashtags is a great way to show your support. Not only does it push that business in front of your audience, which that business may not have access to, but it also increases their content options. That means, by taking a photo, they may be able to avoid spending a tonne of money creating content, and can share yours instead. Hashtags help collect the content and store it in one place, and many people may look at the hashtag to see what to expect when visiting the business. People tend to trust other people more than the business itself, so you are helping to endorse that business by posting a photo. By posting a photo with their hashtags, you also help support the business without necessarily knowing the person seeing the endorsement. Social media platforms use the information others post about a place to rank it as well. For example, when a company is shared enough, some platforms will even use it to recommend the business.
Rethink discount days like Black Friday and Boxing Day
You might notice that many small businesses either do not participate or only offer some items on sale during events like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Boxing Day. Many small companies simply do not carry the inventories or have not marked up prices enough to support deep discounts. It’s much easier for big-box retailers to share their inventory, and with their purchase power, they receive goods at a lower cost for the same markup value. Factors like this make it much more financially viable to place items on sale for these events than it is for your local artisan or small business. When looking at a small business offering during these events, consider that they are probably offering as much as they can at the moment, and be compassionate if the sales are not as great as you hoped.
Share their events on social media and tag friends who might be interested
It can be very hard for small businesses to get word out about events. Advertising costs are constantly increasing, and many do not have the budget to add advertising to their events. Not only do posts shared by personal accounts count for more with algorithms, those posts can also help put that event or business in front of a much wider audience than most small-business advertising budgets would normally allow for.
Offer feedback (in a kind way).
Everyone is adapting right now. Some businesses are still looking for the best way to serve their customers safely. In doing so, they are learning what customers like and don’t like. If something is happening in your favourite small business that you think is impacting a positive customer experience, offer your feedback. We don’t mean yelling at the person who is working or writing an angry review or, worse, telling other people you know and not the business itself. We mean, find out if they have a customer service email, a customer experience survey or try and speak with the owner or manager to offer your feedback.
Also, this is a great time to remind yourself that people love positive feedback, as well. Many businesses are feeling stressed about how they can offer a good experience, so if you’ve had one - let them know.
Find out the story that makes the business stand out, and tell that story over and over.
Every small business has a story. They have a reason for creating, being and doing what they do. As consumers and humans, we thrive on the story. By telling the story of what makes this business great, you create a compelling reason to visit the store and support it. Whatever the reason the store opened or whether the story is about the shop owner or the employees, there is always something that piques interest. The last way you can support small businesses is to make a concentrated effort to uncover what that story is and champion it amongst your friends.
Whether you are still at home or starting to go out (safely) more. Whether you have disposable income or are currently budgeting. Whether you are near or far from your favourite small business there are always ways to support local and support small. Remember today, on Buy Nothing Day, the important role in our communities small businesses have and support them without spending any money.