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Facebook, Instagram introduce gift card feature to help small SA businesses in lockdown

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Feature gives small businesses the cash injection they urgently need and also enables people to continue to support businesses as they reopen and start to recover from the crisis

File picture: IANS

IN A BID to enable people to support local businesses in their communities, a new gift card feature for South African businesses is now available on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook has created this new feature to help local businesses, such as restaurants, fitness studios, salons, bookshops and bakeries, as they navigate their way through the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown.

People can find offers from participating merchants through a “Support Local Businesses” ad in their Facebook feeds, a Gift Card button on merchants’ Instagram profiles or in Stories through the Gift Card sticker.

Instagram is also launching Food Orders, making it easier for businesses to get support from their customers through food orders on Instagram. 

“We know small businesses in South Africa have been deeply impacted by the local outbreak of Covid-19, and this new gift card feature is just one of the many ways we continue to support them” said Nunu Ntshingila, regional director, Facebook Africa.

“Small businesses will continue to play an important role in the economic recovery after the pandemic, which is why it is critical to help them keep the lights on and save jobs. We know when businesses do better, economies do better.”

With Gift Cards available through News Feed, Instagram Profiles and in Instagram Stories, this new experience not only gives small businesses the cash injection they urgently need, but enables people to continue to support businesses as they reopen and start to recover from the crisis.

Earlier this month, Facebook introduced a new section called Businesses Nearby, which allows users to see the latest posts from businesses within a certain geographic radius. 

You can adjust the settings up to 800km, 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”. It also aims to help businesses get “more virtual foot traffic as they move online to stay open”.

Users can also show support for a small business using the brand-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. 

To put the spotlight on those supporting the fight against the pandemic, creators on Facebook can now tag a post as being “in support of” a specific small business.

Facebook added 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.