How to support small businesses during the COVID‑19 pandemic using Instagram

Posted at 4:36 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 18:36:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Now more than ever, local businesses need your support, especially restaurants that are relying on take out orders for the time being.

That's why Instagram is adding some new features to make it more convenient for you.

Buttons on the Instagram pages of local restaurants will let you make online food orders, donate to fundraisers, and buy gift cards.

Nick Gradinger, the Founder of Vessel Kitchen said, "Digital channels are the way that we talk to our guests now exclusively."

He's one of a few restaurateurs who is taking advantage of the new Instagram features, while taking on the idea of tech being an even bigger part of his business during the pandemic.

Vessel Kitchen has locations in Midvale, Park City, and Sandy.

"We're promoting what we're doing inside of our restaurants multiple times a day to give people peace of mind that we're adhering and surpassing cleanliness standards that are being put down at the state level," said Gradinger.

While Nick's restaurants are not the only ones struggling, he's showing how social media and technology can help lift them up during these hard times.

"Doing some organic video just to show that we're real people too. This is our team and also expressing the gratitude, that was something that was so important too. Gratitude for the people that are supporting us," said Gradinger.

In addition to Vessel Kitchen, Ginger Street and Market Street are also using these new Instagram features to reach customers.

Tags can be added to story posts , driving social media users to donate, order food, or buy gift cards for a future date.

When you see gift cards or food orders, you can tap to make your purchase through Instagram's partner site.

Fundraisers open on Facebook to a personal fundraiser created by business owners or their supporters.

Gradinger said, "The limited marketing dollars that we had left we put into doing social spend and putting money towards Facebook and Instagram. I think as we've tracked our data over the past three weeks, we think that's paid off."

These Instagram features are free to use on business accounts.

On Instagram, you can convert your personal profile to a business account to access features that can help you grow your business.

To switch your profile to a business account:

  1. Go to your profile and tap in the upper right corner.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Account.
  4. Tap Switch to Professional Account.
  5. Tap Business.
  6. If you'd like, you can follow the steps to connect your business account to a Facebook Page associated with your business. This step is optional, and will make it easier to use all of the features available for businesses across the Facebook family of apps. At this time, only one Facebook Page can be connected to your business account.
  7. Add details, like your business category and contact information.
  8. Tap Done.

With a business account, you'll be able to access business features and Instagram Insights. These tools can help you understand who is engaging with your business on Instagram.
You also have the option to display or hide your business category and contact information on your profile.

After setting up, go to your profile and tap Edit Profile. Go to Profile Display under Public Business Information to choose whether you want to hide or display your category label and contact info. Then, tap Done.

Spread the word by re-sharing the stickers in your Stories. For many businesses right now, every sale helps.