By Emily Schroer

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has taken a massive toll on our local economies. With over 100,000 small businesses having closed permanently due to the pandemic, local businesses need our help now more than ever.

Looking for ways to support your favorite local business (besides ordering their takeout 7 days a week)? Here are five seriously impactful things you can do online to give them a helping hand.

Trust us when we say: they’ll thank you for it.

1. Leave an Effective Google Review

Fact: 63.6% of consumers visit Google to check for reviews of a business.

Of all the review platforms out there, Google reviews are perhaps the most critical to local businesses’ success. And while business owners are always grateful for stars – as nearly half of consumers won’t use a business with less than 4 stars –  adding a personal account can make your review, and the business you’re reviewing, go the extra mile online.

Effective reviews can help Google – and potential customers – better understand the nature of a business. This can allow them to appear when locals search for certain products or services, bringing more visitors (and potentially more revenue!) to their site.

Tips for Leaving Better Google Reviews

Effective reviews don’t take long to write – 3-4 short sentences will do! Check out these quick tips for leaving a more effective Google review.

Tips for leaving a more effective Google review:

  • Be specific – Mention the products or services they provided to you, and what you liked about them. For example, if they had amazing wings and a nice patio outside, call that out! It can help people searching for “wings near me” or “patios near me” find your favorite local business more easily.
  • If you can, include the name of the city/area of the business in your review. This can help clarify a business’s service area. Here’s an easy way to do this: “XYZ Company is a great Cleveland-area business/restaurant/cafe!”
  • Mention names – If someone went above and beyond, give them a shoutout! This is a good rule of thumb for any review. The employee in question will appreciate the kind words – especially when the owner reads them!

Example of a nice Google review: “Food was great! Will definitely be back!”

Example of an effective Google review: “Johnny’s Pizza is one of Cleveland’s best pizza spots! They have amazing margherita pizza and BBQ chicken wings, and the service was wonderful. We loved their outdoor patio area as well. Our waitress Katie was great, and we will definitely be back.”

Bonus tip: With food delivery being an important factor right now, consider mentioning if they offer delivery or takeout. Also mention which (if any) delivery app you used to connect with them.

2. Leave Reviews Everywhere Else You Can

We can’t state this enough: if you want to support a local business, review it, and review it everywhere.

While Google reviews are incredibly important in their own way, there are several other review platforms that can help a small local business in equally big ways.

(If you don’t feel like starting from scratch, you can use your Google review as a starting point!)

Here are a few other places to consider leaving reviews in support of your favorite local businesses:

Where to leave reviews (and why):

  • Facebook: Facebook is the second-largest review platform on the web, accounting for nearly 20% of all reviews worldwide. Leaving a recommendation on Facebook is a great way to increase your favorite business’s visibility on the platform, especially among the friends, family, coworkers and colleagues you have in your Friends List.
  • Yelp: Yelp reviews are critical for local businesses, especially because Apple Maps incorporates them into the listing information for each business. So if you want to help your favorite coffee shop show up when your neighbors ask, “Hey Siri, where can I get a latte?” make sure to review them on Yelp.
  • Trustpilot: Trustpilot does not allow companies to adjust or remove bad reviews, making it one of the most trusted review sites out there. If you had a great experience with a business and they have a Trustpilot profile, be sure to leave a nice review there too!
  • Trip Advisor: 95% of travelers read reviews prior to booking, and even if travel has slowed down for now, why not leave a nice review for when things pick back up again? Review everything from hotels and restaurants to museums and parks to encourage future visitors to support your favorite business when they come to town.

3. Follow, Like and Comment on Their Facebook Pages

Liking and commenting on your favorite local business’ Facebook pages is not only a supportive gesture, but it can actually help connect them with more customers and potentially grow their business.

How, you might ask?

Facebook users post millions and millions of posts, photos, articles and more each day – over 350 million, to be exact.

In order to cut down on clutter and make everyone’s timelines more relevant, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to show users content it thinks will be the most important, fun or interesting to them.

Each like or comment on a post helps that algorithm determine the type and number of users that will find it interesting or relevant. The more likes/comments a post has, the more likely it is to show up at the top of other people’s feeds. This means more people will see their content, connecting them with more potential customers down the line.

If sharing and commenting aren’t your thing, then like away! Any little bit of engagement can help a local business’s visibility in the long run.

4. Post and Tag Photos

Sharing and tagging photos on Facebook and Instagram is a great way to show love to your favorite businesses, and the products and services they offer. In fact, photo posts receive 179% more interactions than the average Facebook post.

We all have a little more time at home and a little bit less to do; why not post a #ThrowbackThursday shot from the restaurant where you celebrated your 30th birthday? Or a photo of you wearing your favorite fuzzy hoodie from the local t-shirt shop down the street? Don’t forget to tag their account in your photo, the post text, or both!

Bonus tip: Use the #SupportLocal hashtag (as well as any city-specific or company-specific hashtags) in your posts to show your support for local businesses. This helps connect them to other local-friendly users in your area!

5. Share and Participate in Contests and Promos

Finally, if you see a local business you love sharing a promotion or kicking off a contest on social media, join in! An average of over 34% of new page fans are acquired through contests, and every share, like and comment on a contest or promo can help that business increase its brand awareness little by little.

Even if you might not need what they’re promoting now, your participation can help spread the word and connect them to people who do. At the very least, you’ll make the owner (and their social media manager!) smile.

Most Important Tip: Support Local Business with Kindness

In addition to the online love, as things begin to reopen to the public, remember: local businesses are owned and operated by your neighbors. They are the backbone of our communities, giving each its own, unique flair. Without local business, our worlds would be less colorful, our streets less vibrant and our cities without personality.

As certain industries change, adapt and begin to reopen, be patient and compassionate. Orders may take longer, lines may rack up and businesses have new requirements in place, but remember that we are all working toward a normal that is new to all of us, and we’ll come out of this stronger if we do it together.

What are your favorite ways to support local business?