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As of May 28, 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program has run out of funding. You can learn more about the PPP with our COVID-19 resource hub.

COVID-19 Response: Free Advertising on Social Media

Free advertising on social media platforms as digital marketing giants respond to crisis. It’s no longer news that small businesses have been hit hard by the Coronavirus crisis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other health care agencies have recommended that they shut down in response to the current public health emergency.

Many big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other areas across the United States and the world have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government officials have mandated closures, working from home, social distancing and other things that have negatively impacted the bottom lines of most small businesses, even those allowed to continue operating.

What IS news is that many of the big, well-known social media and digital marketing companies that earn a significant amount of their revenue from small business owners are NOW returning the favor. They’re helping out small businesses by offering economic development and marketing opportunities no one could have anticipated.

It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from the Small Business Administration (SBA), local small business development centers and other government agencies that offer loan programs, disaster assistance and other assistance programs to help deal with economic emergencies like the one caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Relief programs as part of a COVID-19 response aren’t something you’d expect to see from for-profit businesses that are typically focused on maximizing revenue.

Many of the social media and digital marketing powerhouses that connect America’s small companies with their customers are doing major things that small business owners should take advantage of. They could help them survive the crisis and make it through to a better post-COVID-19 tomorrow.

Check out some examples.

Facebook supports small business owners

Facebook, and it’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, often take a hit for not responding to emerging challenges quickly or aggressively enough.

When it comes to the Coronavirus epidemic, Facebook and Zuckerberg are taking a leadership role. The dominant social media network has announced that it will offer $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to up to 30,000 small businesses that need help making it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is available in 30 countries. It’s purpose it to build goodwill with small business owners, who are among its most active advertisers and devoted users. The purpose of the program is to help them make it through one of the biggest challenges the business community has ever faced.

According to Facebook, 140 million plus small businesses leverage the platform to market their products and services. Many use the network organically and never pay to promote their businesses. Facebook is making the program available to both paid users and those who have never spent money on the platform. This could be the perfect time for organic users to find out what Facebook could do for them.

The initiative is designed to give businesses what they need most now. This includes cash to stay open and pay their employees so they don’t have to resort to unemployment benefits, along with free ways to stay connected with current customers and attract new ones.

In addition to grants and free advertising, Facebook is providing virtual training through its Business Resource Hub to help small businesses manage their operations more effectively through the COVID-19 pandemic.

More details about the Facebook initiative, including FAQs, are available on their website.

Bonus: Local media outlets are more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are small businesses. They have become financially strained because of the additional reporting they’re doing about the coronavirus crisis and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 . The Facebook Journalism Project has announced that it will offer $1 million in grants (up to $5,000 apiece) to local news outlets in the United States and Canada to help them cover the pandemic.

How Hootsuite is helping during the Coronavirus pandemic

Many small businesses use Hootsuite to schedule their social media posts and manage activity across all their accounts.

Hootsuite is offering small businesses in the industries most impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, including restaurants, hotels, event venues and performing arts organizations, free use of the professional version of their social media management software until July 1, 2020. It could be a good way for businesses to increase their social media presence, stay connected with customers and attract future buyers.

Google’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak

Google is the life blood of most small businesses. It’s where people go to learn about local restaurants, event venues, coffee shops, electricians, lawyers and more. It’s completely changed how small businesses promote themselves and find new customers. Most can’t imagine operating without Google.

Google is now returning the favor and pledging more than a half billion dollars to help small businesses make it through the Coronavirus crisis.

The program includes $340 million in credits that can be used during 2020 on any of Google’s advertising platforms. There’s no signup or application process needed to claim the credits. They’re automatically added to current Google Ad accounts.

Google is also providing an additional $200 million to NGOs and financial institutions to provide small businesses with access to capital. The money is earmarked to help people in communities that typically don’t have easy access to small business cash.

The program is a win-win for Google and small business owners. Neither could be successful without the other.

Did you know:Moz, the search engine optimization (SEO) company, is offering free access to many of its Moz Academy SEO courses through May 31? Take advantage of this opportunity to improve your Google search engine marketing efforts.

Yelp’s support for local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues

Yelp helps local businesses attract new customers, especially though it’s ratings and reviews and reservation service. Most local restaurants, bars and entertainment establishments depend on it to bring in new customers. These are the types of front-line businesses that have been most impacted by COVID-19 closures.

Yelp recently announced $25 million in relief for restaurants and nightlife businesses in the United States and Canada with fewer than five locations. It comes in the form of waived fees for March advertising, free advertising in April, May and June and service upgrades. Small businesses with active Yelp campaigns as of March 19, 2020 qualify for the program. They’ll know for sure when they log in to their Yelp accounts.

Yelp is also offering special opportunities for operations that provide takeout food service, something more and more people depend on to stay safe while still enjoying their favorite restaurant meals during the pandemic.

This is another win-win situation. Hospitality businesses cannot survive without Yelp and Yelp couldn’t exist without them.

Did you know:A number of social media and tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (Linkedin’s parent company) are supporting hackathons? These virtual events promote software development to help fight COVID-19. The solutions that come out of them could provide relief to health workers.

GoFundMe rallies communities around local businesses

GoFundMe, the social fundraising platform recently launched the Small Business Relief Initiative. It’s purpose is to support small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The goal is to get their communities to rally behind them and help them out. GoFundMe partnered with Yelp and Intuit QuickBooks to deliver on that promise. All three donated $500,000 to jumpstart the initiative.

Supporters of small businesses are encouraged to donate to the Small Business Relief Fund in the coming weeks. The program will issue $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe. Not only is it a way for businesses to get funding, it’s also a way to promote themselves in a meaningful way by building community support.

Linkedin offers training on its ad platform

LinkedIn is the top social promotion platform for many segments of the small business community, especially professionals trying to connect with other professionals. The issue: most don’t have the skills needed to promote themselves and manage their businesses through a crisis. That’s why the social platform decided to make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses, including webinars, available for free. They cover topics that small business owners will find valuable right now.

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