With COVID-19 bringing uncertainty to many businesses, we are constantly seeking insights that can provide us with a better understanding of the market under the current circumstances. In light of this, platforms including Google and Facebook have launched new features to help with your marketing and provide consumers with key information. These features are not in support of businesses alone; many included in the list below (particularly those of social platforms) are for the benefit of individuals – helping us come together when navigating life in lockdown. We have pulled together an overview of all the new features you can make the most of.
Free Google Shopping – For the first time since 2012, when Google Shopping became a paid advertising only channel, Google is allowing retailers to feature on Google Shopping Tab for free – helping merchants better connect with customers.
Google Ads Credits – Google dedicated $340m in ad credits to small and medium businesses, to be used in 2020, to help them stay in contact with customers during these unprecedented times.
GMB Bulk Edit – With many brands being unable to operate during this time, consumers are seeking information highlighting whether brands are operational at present. The Google My Business API allows business owners to upload information across locations in bulk, helping businesses display relevant, correct information.
Special Announcements Schema – In further effort to help businesses keep their customers up to date on information, Google rolled out COVID-19 schema, enabling announcements to be pulled into the SERPs.
Support for VirtualEvent Schema – During the lockdown period, many events have been cancelled, postponed or moved online. Google’s VirtualEvent schema allows this information to be pulled into the search results and other products such as Google Maps.
Messenger Rooms – Facebook has introduced video calls to it’s Messenger service, as well as extending the Whatsapp Video calls to include up to 8 people to help families and friends stay in touch.
Small Business Grants – Similarly to Google, Facebook also launched a $100m small business grant programme of credit and cash grants, to help businesses reach consumers through Facebook Ads.
Facebook Business Hub – Facebook has produced a dedicated hub of guides and resources to help support businesses through this uncertain time; including a resilience toolkit and emergency response guide.
Care Reactions – To help bring some positivity to your feed, there are now care reactions available on Facebook. In addition to the usual reactions available, from thumbs up to yawning, ‘care’ emojis have been added to the line up, including a hug and a heart.
Help Requests/Offers – This new feature allows users to find and share support with people nearby using posts on this dedicated feed. There are various filters enabled to help narrow down your search.
Small Business Stickers – As you may have seen popping up on your feed, Instagram recently introduced a Small Business Sticker. When accounts you follow use this sticker in their stories, they will be grouped under the pinned Small Business story, which is displayed as the first story for all users.
Co-Watching – Instagram’s co-watching feature not only lets users connect via video call but users can simultaneously scroll through their feed and share content with others on the video call.
Fact-Checker Bot – Amongst the legitimate information around COVID-19, there are a high volume of false news reports. The WhatsApp fact-checker bot will help to inform users if information being shared on the platform is one of many hoaxes.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Professional Free Trial – For most businesses, offline marketing is currently near impossible and moving toward digital is essential. This is the same for non-profit organisations. To help their fundraising efforts, LinkedIn have announced a 60-day free trial of their Sales Navigator tool.
Free Job Listings for Front-Line Roles – This is a three-part initiative enabling sectors with urgent hiring needs to post jobs for free on LinkedIn as well as driving suitable candidates to these roles and deploying inhouse recruiters to source talent.
Shopify Integration – As Pinterest sees a surge in traffic, it has launched a Shopify integration that simplifies the way merchants upload catalogues and turn their products into shoppable pins.
AR Donation Experience – Adding to their many augmented reality filters, Snapchat have rolled out a COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund filter. When applied to currency notes, the filter shows examples of how funding is used and encourages users to donate – which can be done directly in the app.
Donation Stickers – TikTok creators have started featuring donation stickers in their videos and live streams for their chosen charities. Users can then click-through on the stickers to a donation page.
Video Builder – Given the current need for businesses to connect with customers via digital, YouTube has made it easier to create videos where resources are limited. YouTube has released a Video Builder beta tool that can be used to create animated content using their shared library.
COVID-19 Trend Spotlight – In the trends tab on Twitter there is a new spotlight that groups together news on COVID-19 from verified sources.
It is encouraging to see that so many of our leading digital platforms are making changes to support businesses and the community during this time and provide great examples of how we can adapt to support others.
We hope that you can make use of some of the features highlighted – if not for your COVID-19 marketing approach, then for personal use.