Instagram announces new features for small businesses including gift cards, food orders and fundraisers

Facebook and Instagram logo is seen on a mobile phone , on March 17, 2019.

Nasir Kachroo | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Facebook is taking yet another move to help small businesses. On Wednesday it announced that Instagram is making it easier for small businesses to feature gift cards, online food orders and fundraisers in their profiles or stories.

Starting Wednesday in the U.S. and Canada, Instagram users can tap on a gift card or food order to make a purchase through a company’s site. Fundraisers created by a business or its supporter open on Facebook.

Instagram users can spread the word by resharing the stickers in Stories, to encourage their friends and followers to also support small businesses. It hopes the feature will help small businesses ramp up sales.

This – along with Facebook’s launch of gift cards for small businesses last week – is meaningful because those businesses are under so much pressure right now. Small businesses are also crucial to Facebook’s future.

Some 7.5 million small businesses are at risk of permanently closing over the next five months, should the pandemic and economic shutdown continue, according to a survey published this week by Main Street America, a network of 300,000+ small businesses.

Small businesses are at the center of Facebook’s business. The social giant reports that there are 140 million businesses across the Facebook apps and 8 million of them are advertisers.

The majority of them are small and medium-size businesses. On Instagram, 90% of accounts follow at least one business, according to the company. And consumers like having those brands there. A Facebook survey found 76% of Instagram users say brands on the platform are “entertaining” and 77% say the Instagram profiles are “creative.”

The bottom line: small businesses generate crucial revenue for Instagram parent Facebook – at a time when larger brands in the travel and retail space are halting spending. They also provide valuable content for consumers. Instagram’s new tools for small businesses aren’t offered out of altruism. Instagram needs these companies for the health and vibrancy of its own platform to survive.

“Small businesses are the backbone of local communities and restaurants are the soul of neighborhoods,” says Instagram COO Justin Osofsky. “They bring people together and build community. We want to do our part in helping them stay open, keep in touch with customers, and be informed on how to navigate this crisis.”

Source: CNBC