Since the coronavirus pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs and stay home, many individuals have turned to creating their own small businesses to generate much-needed income. Compared to last year, there has been an 11% increase in petitions for employer identification numbers across the United States.
Students especially have started finding new and creative ways to make extra money. Whether your friends joined a band, started styling hair or designed their own line of resin earrings, students should support their fellow peers. Helping friends and other struggling college kids is important now more than ever. Here are five ways to help support your friends’ small businesses.
1. Share their posts on your social media platforms.
While it might seem like a simple and underrated way to support your friends’ businesses, sharing their posts on your Instagram story or Facebook page can help grow their audiences and get them more sales. Since Instagram stories are one of the most highly used features on the app, this means your followers are more likely to click through and see your friends’ posts.
This might be one of the easiest ways to assist your friends in achieving their goals. Though it takes less than 10 seconds to share a post, it could get five soon-to-be customers to follow their page.
If your friends haven’t made a social media account for their businesses, encourage them to create one or offer to make one for them. With most people stuck inside on their phones all day, a social media page is the perfect way to grab the attention of potential customers.
2. Like, comment, save and send their posts to help them get more exposure.
If you’ve used Instagram for a while, then you know that their algorithm update in 2016 removed the chronological order feed with a less than satisfactory engagement-focused timeline. This means that the posts that are the most engaged with — shared to stories, bookmarked for later, commented on, etc. — are the ones that show up more frequently on others’ newsfeeds. Facebook also followed suit with a similar move in 2018 that moved the accounts that the algorithm deemed to be “relevant” to the top of users’ feeds.
To ensure that your friends’ music or small businesses are organically growing, it is imperative that you comment, like and share as much as possible. Whether you post a screenshot of their latest painting, share a post about their upcoming DJing event or comment a bunch of heart eyes under their pictures, increasing engagement is crucial to their success.
3. Buy one of their items or attend one of their events.
If you have a little money saved up or just want to lend a hand beyond sharing a post, consider buying an item from your friend or attending one of their shows. Nothing says friendship like monetarily supporting your friend’s dreams and aspirations. Commissioning a piece of artwork or showing up at a farmer’s market booth is not only a good way to help small businesses thrive, but it is also a sincere attempt to show your support.
However, just because you are friends does not mean that it’s OK to ask for a discount or freebies. If a product or service they offer is too expensive, try saving up or stick to social media. Paying for a friend’s product, event or service in full is the best way to encourage what they’re passionate about.
4. Share your new product or post links to their services.
So you’ve ordered a customized T-shirt, bought a line of diet supplements or joined their Twitch stream. Now what? Post about it!
Potential customers love to read rave reviews or see pictures showcasing the products in action. Other students will be able to expand their YouTube playlists after they see your friend’s songs or videos shared on your page.
Many of the small businesses I enjoy shopping from, I first discovered after seeing posts about their products or services. Most recently, I bought a hand-painted mirror from an amazing black-owned business after a page I follow posted their items to Instagram.
Posting and sharing the products and videos you love, whether you know them or not, is an easy way to help small businesses succeed in today’s economy. The pandemic has been particularly rough on small businesses and college students, both of which were struggling financially long before the global outbreak and economic recession. Shopping from up-and-coming entrepreneurs is a great way to support a good cause. Don’t forget to post a picture of your experience.
Take pride in your friends’ small businesses. Posting about your friends’ products, services or artwork will not only make them feel good, but it will give you a sense of secondhand satisfaction knowing you stand by a worthy enterprise.
5. Show your enthusiasm with a hands-on approach.
Though your friends might not explicitly request assistance, it’s always nice to reach out and ask. You could offer to model their newest clothing, hang up flyers promoting their music or go door-to-door selling their hair products. No matter what this might look like in the context of your friend’s small business, taking time out of your schedule could mean the world to them and their company.
Being a business owner can be hectic, and it’s difficult to accomplish everything without hiring another person. Devoting your time and energy is a personal effort that will help their small business flourish. Being there for your bestie is what friendship is truly about, after all.
No matter what small businesses your friends might own, showing them the love that you’d wish to receive will go a long way. With everything going on in the world, the future yields so much uncertainty. But with the companionship of a few close friends, it makes these trying times a little more bearable. So shop small and shop local, and hopefully one day your friends can return the favor.