Please forgive the headline: Depending on the context, it can come across as originating from a cheapskate. But my intention is good. Because of the pandemic this year, you’ve likely read many calls to buy at local businesses. However, the truth is that many people have lost their jobs. Of those that haven’t, they may have transportation issues and their local businesses don’t deliver, leading these potential customers to shop online. If you find yourself in either situation but still want to help, I have three suggestions below to help local businesses without spending money.
Leave Online Reviews
To keep reviews trustworthy, companies that publish them follow and enforce very strict rules. In addition, many business owners feel uncomfortable asking for reviews from happy customers, and consumers will often only leave a review if they’ve had a negative experience.
So, if you’re trying to support local businesses without spending money, take 20 minutes and leave reviews for your favourite businesses on Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Online reviews can make or break a business these days, and starting 2021 with a list of positive reviews will help the local businesses you enjoy shopping and eating at attract new customers.
Follow Your Favourite Businesses on Social Media
Social media platforms have become a pay-to-play arena for small businesses. This means that many of the posts that small business owners share won’t actually be seen by most of their followers unless these small businesses pay for ads.
I see this myself all the time: I currently have over 260 followers on Facebook, but only about 20% of my followers see any of my posts. And the posts sending you to websites where you can buy my books? Not even 10% see them.
This is frustrating, because the #1 question I get asked is where people can buy my books.
You can use social media to support small businesses without spending any money by engaging with their accounts. You can even direct Facebook to show you posts from businesses more often! Here’s how:
- Visit your local business’s Facebook page.
- In the header, on the right, you’ll see three dots. Click those.
- Select “Follow Settings.”
- Click on the radio button next to “Favorites.”
Then share the posts you like with your friends. You’ll help small businesses reduce their marketing spend but still get the word out.
Ask Your Friends to Recommend Their Favourite Local Businesses
Another wonderful—and speedy!—way to help local businesses without spending money is toyou’re your friends on social media for recommendations. They can list their favourite businesses, authors, artists, singers…whatever you like! I’ve actually purchased a few gifts through this avenue because of that. This is something that would take you perhaps 40 seconds, but it can help people find gifts fast. And nothing is stronger than a recommendation from a friend.
And That’s All Folks
Leaving reviews and participating in social media will help your favourite local businesses build online trust for the long term. You only leave one review per site and per business, so it’s a one-and-done scenario. For social media, try to share something once a week (or once a month per local business if you follow quite a few). Using these ideas, you can support local businesses without spending money and your efforts will help them in the long term, too.