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COVID-19: Facebook, Instagram Add Features to Help Local Businesses

Facebook and its image-sharing app Instagram introduced features to help local businesses connect with customers during the coronavirus pandemic, per a blog post. The social media giant added a #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag on Facebook and a “Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram to let users rally around local companies.

Facebook added a “Businesses Nearby” feature to help people find information about neighborhood shops, communicate by mobile messaging and place orders through third-party apps. The social network also updated its Business Resource Hub to help companies find online resources to cope with the pandemic.

Facebook Messenger, the social networks messaging app, added a Business Inbox to give small companies a way to answer questions that customers enter on Facebook. Businesses can tag pandemic-related posts in Facebook’s online tools to create those pages, per the blog post

Facebook’s additional features for local businesses aim to help smaller companies with fewer financial resources set up sophisticated e-commerce programs, while raising awareness about their plight during the coronavirus pandemic. Those companies have borne the brunt of the health crisis, with one study suggesting that 7.5 million small businesses in the U.S. are at risk of closing permanently if the disruption persists for several months. As cities and states begin to ease lockdowns, Facebook can help small businesses to regain their footing by reaching nearby customers.

The expanded tools for small businesses are another sign of how important those companies are to diversifying Facebook’s revenue among a wider base of advertisers. While major brands run prominent campaigns on the social network and Instagram, the platforms also enable smaller businesses to reach target audiences at a comparably low cost. The social network provides ways for small businesses to run focused campaigns targeting nearby residents, set up Facebook pages that can handle online orders and communicate directly with their customers through Messenger, among other services.

Facebook has supported small businesses in other ways, including the creation of a $100 million program that provides ad credits and cash grants to help companies cover wages and rent. As many as 30,000 small businesses in more than 30 countries were eligible to receive a grant from Facebook, which in March outlined the criteria to qualify in a blog post.

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