Would you believe me if I told you that you don’t need to spend a single cent to support a local business in your community? Well, it’s true!

As a consumer, there are multiple avenues you can go down to show businesses that you care. With the online world growing more and more, here’s what you can do to support local businesses for free online.

  1. Write a Review

Businesses use reviews to build and maintain their online reputation. As a consumer, leaving a review is a great way to tell a business about your experience. Whether your review is good, neutral or bad, it tells a story.

With good reviews, you inform future customers of your great experience and let the business owner know what you enjoyed. On the flip side, neutral or bad reviews allow business owners to learn about what they can improve.

However, whenever you’re leaving a review, be sure to make it detailed. A business owner can’t do much when all your review says is, “The service was great” or “I’ll never come back here.” By explaining your experience in detail, the business owner will know what’s working and what’s not.

Let’s look at a restaurant, for example. If your service and food were great, explain what made the service stand out (was it the server, the timeliness, the atmosphere, etc.) and list what you ordered off the menu.

If you had subpar service, explain what made you feel that way. Was it busy? Was your food cold? Did you wait long? Even if you feel like it’s the smallest detail, include it in your review. The better you can paint a picture of your service, the better the business owner can address the situation.

  1. Follow Local Businesses on Social Media

When COVID-19 struck, everyone turned to social media to communicate, including local businesses! While most people already used social media in their daily lives, it became even more prominent once customers were forced to stay home and businesses operated on limited hours.

Following and engaging with your favorite local businesses on social media will help you stay informed of any updates, but it will also help support the businesses. By commenting, tagging and liking posts, business owners will know what content you enjoy, and it will help them reach their social media goals.

If you’re visiting a specific business, whether it’s a retail store, restaurant, art gallery or any other type of business, make sure to check-in on Facebook, too! Checking-in lets your Facebook friends know that you visited that business and helps spread awareness.

Overall, social media is a brand awareness tool for businesses. It doesn’t necessarily provide them with immediate leads and sales, but it helps spread the word of their business to potential customers. Next time you’re scrolling through your feeds, take the time to interact with your favorite local business to support them.

  1. Subscribe to Content/Emails

If your favorite local business sends out email updates, take the time to subscribe to them! Emails have the opportunity to provide more details about updates than social media does. Emails can also be better tailored to you!

Many businesses have separate lists based on how users engage with their email content, which allows them to personalize the content even more. For example, the company I work for has a list specifically for our podcast and a general list for the rest of our content.

When you take the time to subscribe, it shows the business that you care about them and want to know about the updates they have. And remember, this is totally free for you as a customer!

Final Thoughts

While making a purchase from a business is beneficial, you don’t have to spend money in order to support a business. If you take the time to write reviews, follow the businesses on social media and subscribe to their email lists, you are already supporting them.

With the disruption of COVID-19, not everyone has the funds to order takeout or make a purchase from a local boutique. Whether you’re strapped for cash or not, consider helping them digitally to spread awareness for their business.

And if you’re a business owner and you need help staying relevant online, be sure to download this free guide to help you navigate the changing digital world.