The recent global health crisis of COVID-19 may have distanced us physically from one another, but it has allowed us to draw closer in other ways. Musicians are streaming live concerts and businesses are conducting meetings and conferences online. And while some businesses are slowing down or shuttering their doors, others are reaching out to their communities both via social media and social programs.
Supporting small businesses
By all accounts, small businesses have been hit hardest by the economic downturn. But people have rallied around these vulnerable businesses by using their social media accounts to encourage others to buy online from local retailers or to buy gift certificates to restaurants to be used at a later time. In some cases, large corporations have stepped up to support smaller businesses.
- Amazon announced a $5 million relief fund for small businesses in the vicinity of its headquarters.
- Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries.
Small businesses helping others
But in other cases, small businesses are the ones reaching out to support their communities.
- Distilleries are turning their attention to producing hand sanitizer. Vermont-based Caledonia Spirits, the popular distiller of Barr Hill Gin, is producing hand sanitizer for local nonprofit organizations.
- Ledger Restaurant in Salem has opened “Ledger Basket” to allow the Salem community to purchase food items directly from the restaurant instead of waiting in lines at grocery stores. They are also offering same-day curbside pick up or delivery.
And since a key component of “social distancing” is staying inside, many educational businesses and schools are offering free or reduced-price online training sessions.
- Alison provides free courses in Google platforms such as Google Analytics, AdSense, and more, with certifications available.
- Rosetta Stone is offering three months free for students during the coronavirus pandemic to learn a language of their choice.
- The Photoshop Training Channel is providing free photo editing tutorials.
- General Assembly offers free coding classes through its online Dash program.
Meanwhile, social media platforms are making efforts to promote community and combat misinformation:
- Facebook and Twitter have both announced strategies which involve ensuring that searches for information return results from credible sources. And Facebook has promised to remove false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations.
- Instagram launched a new “Stay Home” sticker which, when added to Stories, puts the story in a shared feed, allowing other users to view all stories with the “Stay Home” sticker in one place. Initiatives like this build community and enforce the message of the importance of social distancing.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) posted its first TikTok on measures people can adopt to help protect themselves and others from getting the coronavirus. That video has racked up more than 27 million views to date.
— TikTok (@tiktok_us) February 29, 2020
Although COVID-19 may continue to disrupt our lives for the weeks and months to come, businesses have shown that they have the means and the will to support their communities and the economy at large through social media. As marketers, let’s all try to find creative ways to use social media to help our communities. Every Tweet, post, and share can help!