Facebook is announcing a handful of new features that will allow users to show their support for small businesses and get the latest updates as those businesses deal with the fallout — economic and otherwise — of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The social network is introducing a new section called Businesses Nearby, which will allow you to see the latest posts from businesses within a certain geographic radius (you can adjust it to anything from 1 mile to 500 miles), view their current hours and pickup/delivery options and make a booking or send them a message.
In a blog post, Facebook described this as a way to allow users to “more quickly find essential products and services” while also helping businesses get “more virtual foot traffic as they move online to stay open.”
And if you want to show your support for a small business, you can also use the new Support Small Business sticker on Instagram or #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag in Facebook — any posts using the sticker will be added to a shared Instagram story highlighting similar posts from all the accounts you follow. Creators on Facebook will also be able to tag a post as being “in support of” a specific small business.
The company is also trying to make it easier for businesses to communicate with customers by adding a dedicated Business Inbox in the Messenger app — allowing them to use Messenger to answer questions sent to their Facebook Page — and by allowing businesses to tag all their COVID-19-related posts from the Page composer.
In addition, Facebook said it will be posting COVID-19-related information, tools and tips for small businesses in both the Facebook and Instagram apps. Businesses can access this information through the Facebook app shortcuts or their Instagram business profile.