How the current crisis has brought together business and altruistism to foster innovative digital initiatives
We can look at it in many ways, but altruism and business don’t necessarily go hand in hand. When they do, we may ask what came first: the chicken or the egg? Well,… currently the answer is easy and lies outside this duet. It’s called Covid-19. And the outcome is rather surprising, in a good way!
By forcing the planet to practice self confinement, the virus with the poetic name of Covid-19, has hurt human societies in what makes us a unique species: intelligent social interactions, whether they take place for business interests or for the sake of human warmth.
As a result, we were left with no choice but to rely on our modern tools to transpose digitally what we are usually doing offline. Humans, and also businesses, have been forced to suddenly adapt to an “all-digital” way of life and start using the vast array of tools, that had previously be relatively underutilised, to do so. Exceptional times call for exceptional measures!
The two giants Facebook and Google put a lot of effort into supporting this behavior shift. They launched new initiatives, created new products and adapted their policies and controls. For their image, naturally, but also to support the creation of new digital habits that rely on their technology, betting that they will last long after Covid-19 has blown over.
Let’s cut the fairy tale and go straight to what I found interesting in the recent launches, whether it serves human interactions and safety or businesses.
Playful and useful
- “Stay Home” sticker: End of March, Instagram launched the sticker Stay Home (2 versions) and if you use the sticker on your story, your photo or video will be shared in a “Stay Home” story compiling all stories with this sticker: nothing better than social pressure to make people stick to rules! Joke aside, this sticker is meant to remind masses into staying at home and has been translated in local languages.
- Enhanced Instagram video conversations: Since the end of April, Instagram has unlocked the possibility to cowatch Instagram content, so you can share content while on a live or video conversation on Instagram
- “Thank You Hour” Sticker: “It’s a sticker in stories that lets you show gratitude for what’s helping you through this time. Use the sticker and your photo or video will be added to a shared Instagram story at 7 p.m. your time where friends can see your thanks.” tweeted the company. It has replaced the “Thanks Health Heroes” sticker.
- “Support Small Business” Sticker and # : Launched May 11, this sticker aims at supporting local businesses. By mentioning a business in the sticker, you can show a preview of the business you support. Also, like the “Stay Home” sticker, stories with the stickers will appear in a shared story.
- Doodle Series: Doodle showcased for 10 days the most popular games of the past couple of years with the title “Stay and Play at Home with Popular Past Google Doodles” from April 27 to May 8. This initiative followed the previous doodle series “Thank you” which ran for 11 days (ex: “Thank You: Doctors, nurses, and medical workers”) you can find them again on www.google.com/doodles
- Messenger Rooms: Our community is turning to Messenger and WhatsApp more than ever to stay connected. Between Messenger and WhatsApp, more than 700 million accounts participate in voice and video calls every day, and the number of calls has more than doubled in many countries since the pandemic began” writes Messenger. With this new feature launched April 24, you can now create rooms on Facebook or Messenger and join group video calls.
Prevention and security
- Health Tips: Google Search provided real-time information and health tips to fight against the pandemic on its home page and on top of search results.
- Trusted info first:
- Accounts dedicated solely to Covid-19 are withdrawn from Facebook, Instagram and Messenger recommendations, along with posts or accounts relaying fake information or nurturing fear and panic. Google took similar measures on its network.
- Whatsapp launched a chatbot in partnership with the WHO (World Health Organization) to fight misinformation about COVID-19
- Facebook provides trustworthy/verified Covid-19 related information on top of its home page.
Promotions and grants
- Gift cards and Food vouchers on Instagram: Businesses can now add their digital gift card or food ordering options to their Instagram profile. Gift cards can be shared with their local community on Facebook.
- Small Business Grants programme by Facebook: with disruptions due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, Facebook put in place a financial support: they are offering USD 100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time – available in the US only
- Sell on Google Shopping for free: Google had been working on these changes for some time, but the pandemic accelerated those plans. Any business can list products on Google Shopping for free instead of making businesses pay for ad placement. It started April 27th in the US and is getting implemented worldwide.
The above are just a few examples among many initiatives that were and are still in effect during these trying times.
Whether they seem technically complex or simplistic, useful or trivial, altruistic or opportunistic, we can underline the phenomenal quantity of it in just a 2-month time frame.
Also note that Google and Facebook provide articles, insights, data and tips specially prepared for businesses in their various websites and pages, to help them take advantage of the current situation. We invite you to have a look at the websites Think with Google, where you can filter articles per key words, and Coronavirus is one of them, or Boost with Facebook, to consult information about eligibility for programmes designed for businesses. To help you navigate through all these tools, data and best practices, do not hesitate to have a look at our toolkit and to contact our team of digital experts.