How to Help Small Businesses Without Buying Anything: A Small Business Owner's Plea
The past 12+ months have been completely ridiculous, unavoidable, strenuous, and many other fitting adjectives that shouldn't be able to describe such a short period of time, yet 2020 proved it possible. Millions of jobs lost, put on furlough, or precariously teetering somewhere between essential and non essential, and in thousands and thousands of worst cases, businesses closing. Small businesses included (FYI: my lovely state of CA defines any business under 100 employees+affiliates as a small business along with some other critical qualifiers that are interesting but essentially irrelevant to the public's understanding of a "small business").
So, what can the public do to help small businesses that have somehow managed to keep going? Here are some ways anyone can help small businesses without spending more pennies:
Engage With Their Social Media Posts
...Not Just a "Like"!
Likes, hearts, thumbsup, and other emojis are wonderful positive reinforcement, however, the real kick comes in if you share, repost, message, or even comment on the post. These ways are much more "valuable" to any-a-number of algorithms simply because it takes ever slightly more effort to do, meaning that the post was that much more worthy of your, the viewer's, time and "care" to remark on. Even move that "Like" down into the comments by just leaving a heart emoji as the comment. The more their posts get interacted with in these ways, the more the backend systems will show their accounts to people who "like similar accounts", and/or you do it directly by reposting yourselves. Help spread small business's word around for them - it makes a world of difference to them (/us!).
Leave Reviews On as Many Items You Can On Their Site If You Do Purchase
...even if you purchased many months ago. Or if it was a gift for you or to you!
Believe it or not, one of the most powerful things someone can do is personally vouch or make a testament to the item's quality, aesthetic, expectations, packaging, customer service... anything! Not only does it establish their website or business as being genuine to other customers, other prospective business opportunities will undoubtedly do their research for a prospective deal and look at the website - your words can help a retail shop owner decide that they do want to offer some shelf space to the small business, let them into the local farmer's market or a holiday show ($$$$!). Sometimes "social proof" is required to even list on some selling sites. These reviews can help small businesses take a next step or keep them afloat.
... Say Something!
If you hear of a new community, show, selling or social platform, let them know. It can pay off big for small businesses to carve out an early niche in new places instead of continually clawing their way up older, bloated ones. After this year, with so many people isolated at home, there's little chance to meet up and casually mention it. Most of the time these are passed around by word-of-mouth, and with no conventions, small business meetups, anything, getting a random message from someone with a lead is ever more important.
... Say Something!!
This year has caused an absolute explosion of fake, content stealing accounts. They're blatant about it because it's so easy and good-willing people don't understand that "📸 credit" does NOT mean it was used with permission! It is stolen content that took someone hours, days, years for all I know, to produce that single piece of content. These accounts are malicious and the bane of small businesses online presences because they bombard the "suggested accounts to follow", taking away that spot from a legitimate business. There are only so many spots in a day in social feeds for suggestions and they have been absolutely clogged with wonderfully curated stolen content. Sometimes the "branded" part of the picture is cropped out, blurred, or heck, even left in. If you have artist friends or are a true fan, you know their work even if the "branding" isn't inherently visible. Report the offending account's name, platform, date of the post, to the original owner. Chances are they'll know what to do to get their content removed from the thief's account.
If you are also a small business owner that has a point to add, please Contact Me with your addition - I'd love to add more ways to help our community to grow!