The past year was difficult for everyone, but none were hit as hard as smaller, local businesses. More than 100,000 businesses have permanently shut down in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 150,000 business layoffs in Nevada alone. I think we all know we need to pitch in to save our favorite local spots, but we must deal with the realities within our own homes and the limits we have on our own budgets. The good news is there are plenty of ways to help keep these establishments alive in our community, regardless of the dollars you have at your disposal. While it’s true that money talks, no-cost activities can still amplify the plight of our friends in business so we can keep them afloat.
Shop Local, Obviously
This should come as no surprise, but the most effective way to help local businesses is to give them your business. Try that local restaurant you always drive by. Stock up on your next DIY project at the local hardware store in lieu of a big-box home improvement store. Instead of shopping at one of the larger grocery chains, try getting some items at a boutique grocery shop when your budget permits. With so many businesses offering services like curbside pickup and delivery, shopping local is pretty easy right now if you can swing it, plus comes with a huge benefit: spending money at local establishments keeps three times as much money in the local economy compared to shopping at chain businesses. Shopping local means more money is reinvested in your neighbor’s shop, going home to their families, and supporting the community we live and work in every day.
Write A Positive Review
Local businesses live off their positive reviews on sites like Yelp. There’s no disputing I’ve had a front-row seat to the positive power these have here in our community. Business owners cherish every time a customer takes the time to highlight their great experience at the business in a review. While love shared on social media is undoubtedly beneficial, the impact is fleeting, lasting at best 48 hours. Positive reviews on platforms like Yelp stay on business pages into the future, adding to the overall rating of the business with limitless potential to reach and influence consumers. Reviews help others decide whether a place is worth the visit or not, making them incredibly vital to the revenues restaurants, retail and professional services shops can bring in month to month. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers are more influenced to visit businesses with positive reviews. The more people who leave a positive review, the more that business will get found online, resulting in more traffic and more potential revenue. I’d compare it to the snowball effect but I’m not sure if the Reno snow dances are working just yet.
Support Through Social Media
Just like positive reviews, social media is an incredibly powerful tool, and interacting with the shops you love on platforms like Facebook and Instagram may seem like an oversimplified activity, but I have witnessed time and time again the power liking a post or sharing a simple word of kindness can have in bringing dollars to a business’s doorstep. No doubt you’re following several of your favorite businesses online, which means the algorithms are suggesting to you similar small shops you should be following. Your digital actions remind the platforms to reshare that same content to other similar people, meaning you’ll have played a direct role in building a larger audience for them. Simple as it may seem, your likes and comments go a lot farther than you think. Once you’re following a small business, make sure to interact with their posts and stories, a sure-fire strategy for elevating that same content to other folks who might have dollars to spend at that moment in time. Other ways to help? Don’t forget to use business hashtags, send direct messages and subscribe to their email lists.
Local Businesses Need All Your Love
One final way to send your love and praise to your favorite local businesses is to send a love letter. You didn’t misread that. The #RenoLoveLetter campaign allows you to elevate businesses digitally to additional customers while entering yourself to win one of 100 gift cards from local businesses ranging from $25-$100. The campaign has thousands of dollars to give away, so the odds are in your favor, but you need to write these love letters by 11:59 p.m. January 25.
Above all else, these actions (as simplistic as they may seem) will help sustain our diverse and storied businesses while also making sure we’re keeping one another safe as COVID-19 continues to make its way around our community. Working at Yelp has given me the privilege to collaborate with so many incredible local establishments here in Reno, Nevada, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t saddened by the closings and losses sustained by our community to date, and concerned about the future of many more not making it past this difficult time. As I tell the Yelp Elite Squad all the time, the time we spend sharing the love with local businesses truly makes a difference and I am confident that if we all do it, we can help the community weather the storm.
This article was written by By Michael Tragash, community manager at Yelp and a team member of Reno Loves Local. Reno Loves Local hopes to incentivize the Reno community to use the power of their dollars and endorsements as a means for saving the robust and diverse small business community that has been growing in Reno, Nevada. In the same way the community strives to be more inclusive for all, Reno Loves Local seeks to lift up small businesses during and after the measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. For the most up to date incentives, visit www.facebook.com/renoloveslocal.