The events of 2020 were far from friendly for small businesses. Some reports suggest that 25-36% could be permanently closed due to COVID-19. Hoping to save small businesses, nearly 83% of consumers would now prefer to shop from small local businesses rather than large ones. As small businesses step up their holiday marketing strategies, they can take advantage of this trend and benefit from events like Small Business Saturday, which takes place on November 28th this year.
We took advantage of our Sprout superpower, Social Listening, to find more vacation tips for small business owners, and how marketers can capitalize on people’s desire to support local and small businesses this holiday season. In the past 12 weeks, between September 1st and November 22nd, we recorded more than 1.5 million tweets related to small businesses from over 688,500 individual authors.
While it is evident that the struggle for small business owners is still very real, the hearing data collected by Twitter has shown that there is still hope. People strive to shop small, show support and convey awareness and joy to SMEs.
Shop near home during the holidays
During the pandemic, people were near their home and now want to shop near their home as well. The top five hashtags used in small business conversations were:
- #ShopLocal – used in 130,314 tweets
- #ShopSmall – used in 109,737 tweets
- #SmallBusiness – used in 48,220 tweets
- #SupportLocal – used in 16,730 tweets
- #SupportSmallBusiness – used in 16,356 tweets
Twitter conversations about Small Business Saturday are quickly gaining momentum as vacation approaches. Since November 1st, the volume of messages related to the topic has increased by 252%. In the final stage before the shopping vacation, small businesses can use hashtags like #SmallBizSat and #SmallBusinessSaturday to further refine their small business vacation marketing strategy.
There is a sense of urgency with the #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal calls to action as real fears exist that some of our favorite small businesses may not survive. Over 311,300 small business tweets in the last 12 weeks included the word “help” or “support”, suggesting that consumers are aware of the challenges small business faces and want to show their support.
I know it’s a bit early, but if you are jumping into your Christmas shopping early to avoid the choice, please try to order directly from your local bookstores, comic book stores, and game stores. This holiday season will likely determine whether or not they can survive. #shoplocal
– Felicia Day???????? (@feliciaday) October 23, 2020
Shopping locally has several advantages, especially in an economically difficult area. Data shows that local businesses are giving 52% of their sales back to the local economy, while national retail chains are only giving back 14%. Many consumers may not be aware of this. Small business owners and marketers should use Twitter to enhance the benefits of retail shopping and provide updates on business information, their differentiators, and initiatives for additional assistance.
Engage, expand and be happy
Commitment is essential for small business vacation marketing. Don’t hesitate to join or participate in conversations on Twitter to increase your company’s visibility. The platform is an effective medium for making real connections and reaching new customers.
SMB marketers should consider responding to Tweet threads with high visibility to increase awareness. For example, American journalist Dan Rather, who has over 1.6 million Twitter followers, tweets continuously about helping independent local bookstores. These tweets feature messages from consumers and brands leading people to these small businesses. The 14 messages from Rather that appeared on the small business listening topic totaled over 23.3 million impressions and 86,400 engagements.
There is an amazing bookstore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania called @MidtownScholar. The number of community events and speaking sessions they have hosted is staggering. Central Pennsylvania would be far worse off without its existence.
– MetalMagic ???? Ian (@notmetalmagic) October 28, 2020
Similarly, Lili Reinhart, famous for her role in “Riverdale,” asked her 3.2 million followers for small business suggestions on where to buy her Christmas decorations. Fans responded with their favorites, but this type of request is also an opportunity for small business owners or marketers to raise their hands and expand their reach.
I am Kitana! The owner of knaturalbeauty and I sell homemade vegan skin care products made from natural ingredients! I have so many products to choose from that I even sell men’s products! Checkout my website https://t.co/0uZWfB8h3G pic.twitter.com/HvPm1HeTcb
– ☁️????????????????????????????????????????????????????????☁️ (@imkitanakaye) November 14, 2020
Another effective awareness raising game for independent business owners and artisans is quite simple and offers people a chance to support SMBs for free. On the listening topic, we found that 855 people tweeted a version of the message: “RT is $ 0.00 and supports a small business. My next client could be on your timeline. “The tweets came from a relatively small group, but combined the news got close to 1.1 million engagements, 2.7 million impressions, and 577 engagements per message. Never underestimate the power of a retweet.
Small businesses had a difficult year overall, but an estimated 41% of black-owned small businesses went inactive during the pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned small businesses. It’s devastating to say the least, but people gather around black and minority entrepreneurs.
Tweets with hashtags and keywords related to black and minority companies generated over 225,000 engagements, 299 million impressions and a positive sentiment rating of 58%. Many of these are big brands and celebrities who have come together to develop initiatives that support black businesses and raise consumer awareness.
Rather than overdoing the typical Black Friday sales and promotions, Google and Wyclef Jean came together to promote #BlackOwnedFriday. Every Friday before Black Friday, Google uses its social platforms to highlight unique black-owned companies in hopes of helping customers find new favorites. Brands can also get involved by downloading a full kit of custom designs and GIFs created by Google for them to post on their own social platforms.
Woodward Throwbacks began as a passionate project: two Detroit residents make furniture out of wood that they rescue on site. Now they are a growing small black-owned company that is adapting to COVID-19 by selling its upcycled items online. https://t.co/kkWNc2EMeI #BlackOwnedFriday
– Google Small Business (@GoogleSmallBiz) November 13, 2020
There is more for small and local businesses
Small Business Saturday is just around the corner, but it’s not too late for businesses to have Twitter conversations to raise brand awareness and attract new customers. The holiday season may come and go quickly, but the belief that you are doing what’s right for your community will linger long after the Christmas lights go out.
Enhance your social strategy during the holiday season and beyond with our complete guide to small business marketing.