Instagram Launches Stickers to Support Local Businesses During Pandemic

Instagram added a new feature this month in hopes of preventing local businesses from closing due to coronavirus.

The social media app’s new feature, which is available only in the United States and Canada, makes it easier for local businesses to sell gift cards, do online food orders and fundraise through their accounts.

Businesses can now use stickers in their stories that will direct customers to a website to complete food orders or purchase gift cards. Customers can also help support their favorite local business by sharing the sticker to their story and encouraging others to help support.

Silvia Gonzalez, a University of Central Oklahoma student, said she can’t help support her boyfriend’s family business because she’s barely making enough for her own expenses, but she encourages others to support businesses with what they can.

“Right now I’m working doing DoorDash and I am trying to save up as much money as I can,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t really afford to support any kind of business at the moment.”

Most Instagram accounts follow at least one business. According to a Facebook survey, users find the brands on Instagram to be entertaining and creative. Since the social distancing rules were enforced, brands have been posting a lot less.

Rival IQ, a social media analytics company, released data showing median posts per week from all industries decreased by 25 percent during the week of March 15. The decrease of posts have led to an increase in engagement rates, as the Instagram algorithm is most likely to show the same set of posts to its users.

Any form of promotion by small businesses on the site can benefit them as there is now a more engaged audience.

Small businesses are also hoping this new feature will increase sales and profits, but with millions of Americans filing for unemployment, there are concerns that money will not be available for anything except essential items.

UCO student Jasmine Luevano said her friends have struggled with their small businesses during the pandemic. A close friend of Luevano’s owns Ohclay, which sells jewelry made from ceramic clay slabs in Oklahoma City.

“I know right now she still has her Etsy account open and is hoping more people buy her things even during these times,” Luevano said. “Her only income is from her store.”

The jewelry maker stated with the pandemic going on, she is trying to ship out all of the orders as fast as she can, but with the “chaos happening” it has been very difficult for her.

Instagram also encourages people who still have a stable income to give back to the community and support small businesses.

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