7 New Instagram Features that Will Boost Your Business During COVID-19

With mandatory closures and social distancing safety measures in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19, there are a lot of unknowns for small business owners right now.

One of the questions we often see business owners asking is ‘should we still be posting on social media?’ and the answer is yes, definitely! Many people are finding themselves scrolling Instagram more often now that they are spending more at home in quarantine so it’s the perfect time for small businesses to be active on Instagram and connect with customers.

Instagram has recently launched several new features in an effort to help promote the most helpful and relevant information during this public health emergency. Keep reading to learn more about 7 of Instagram’s newest features and how small businesses can implement these updates into their social media strategies during COVID-19.

1. “Support Small Business” Sticker

The “Support Small Business” sticker for Stories will be directly valuable for your business. When the sticker is added to a photo or video and then shared to Stories, a preview of the small business’ Instagram account will appear. All Stories that include this sticker are automatically added to a shared Instagram story, which can increase visibility for your brand even more.

This sticker makes it easy for users to give a shoutout to their favorite small businesses, in only a few taps.

2. “Stay Home” Sticker

You’ve likely seen Instagram’s new “Stay Home” sticker while viewing Instagram Stories. This sticker is part of Instagram’s initiative to prioritize safety during COVID-19 and any stories that include the “Stay Home” sticker in their Instagram stories will be included in a shared Instagram story. Small businesses should include the “Stay Home” sticker in their Instagram stories to have their posts included in the shared story while providing social distancing tips or business updates to their local communities.

3. Instagram Ads

If your small business can afford it, you should still be advertising on social media during COVID-19. Some businesses have decreased their ad spend these next few months while customers are spending more time than usual on social media. This means small businesses might actually be able to see better results than usual with their social media ads without increasing their budgets.

However, if your small business plans to advertise on Instagram during COVD-19, be cautious about the products and messaging being used in your ads. Instagram has recently put several new advertising policies in place. For example, Instagram ads cannot mention COVID-19 as a way to create a sense of urgency or make a claim that products can help prevent people from contracting the virus. Instagram has also temporarily banned ads and branded content promoting medical supplies, like face masks.

4. Thank You Hour

We know it can be hard to stay positive right now which is why we love Instagram’s new ‘Thank You Hour’ where users are encouraged to use the ‘Thank You’ sticker to share something they are grateful for during the pandemic. Users can share anything they are feeling appreciative for right now then Instagram will include stories using the ‘Thank You’ sticker in a shared story at 7 p.m.

‘Thank You Hour’ is the perfect opportunity for small business owners to say thank you to their customers and the local communities supporting their businesses and helping them survive COVID-19 closures. Not only is it a good reminder to say thank you but having your Instagram story being included in the shared story will help place your business in front of more people.

5. Gift Cards, Food Orders & Fundraisers

Instagram knows that every sale can help small businesses right now which is why they’ve recently launched several features to enable customers to support their favorite local businesses such as gift card stickers.

If you have a business Instagram account, you can now share the gift card, food order and fundraiser stickers on both your Instagram Stories and Profiles. These stickers will make it easier for customers to simply tap the sticker and support your small business. SMBs in the US and Canada can now ask for support directly through Instagram by using the gift card or food order stickers and should keep an eye out for Instagram to roll out the fundraiser sticker soon as well.

6. Instagram Direct Messages on Desktop

Instagram has also recently made it possible to send direct messages through desktop computers and web browsers. Traditionally, the ability to send a Direct Message was only possible via Instagram’s mobile app but Instagram is finally rolling out the ability to read and send messages, share photos and react to responses through desktop.

While this feature is not part of their COVID-19 response, this new feature can really help small businesses. Now it is easier than ever for small business owners to respond to customer questions and engage with customers through DMs.

7. Co-Watching

Finally, the final yet very exciting feature Instagram has launched is Co-Watching. This feature allows users to “hang out” with a friend on video chat and scroll through Instagram posts that one person has liked or saved. At first glance, this might not seem like a feature a small business could utilize but this is actually a great way for teams to brainstorm social media content together while employees are all working remotely from home.

We know small business owners have a lot on their plates right now but with social distancing measures in place your customers are craving virtual social connections now more than ever. We hope these new Instagram updates can help your small business continue to stay connected with your customers while we are all quarantined.

Check out these blogs for additional guidance for your business during this difficult time:

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