An Instagram campaign to spotlight local small businesses throughout September is helping to create greater visibility for thousands of businesses at a time when Australia’s two largest states remain under COVID-19 restrictions.
Close to 20,000 Instagram posts have used the #supportsmallseptember hashtag, but the creator of the campaign, Tori Packer, estimates the number is closer to 50,000 if Instagram Stories are counted too.
Packer is the founder of The Small Business Community, an Instagram collective with more than 32,000 followers, established in April 2020.
The Small Business Community was born out of Packer’s desire to help Australia’s small businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the country. As an “extremely passionate” primary school teacher, Packer says she knew she had the ability to bring people together.
“To be honest, I wanted to help; it was born from a place of compassion,” she tells SmartCompany.
“It absolutely broke my heart that businesses in my local regional community, as well as nationwide, were falling apart. And whilst I didn’t necessarily have the means to purchase from them all, I knew I could create a voice for them.”
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The Support Small September campaign is an “amplified version” of this, says Packer.
“I knew that if I could get all Australians to show their support through the powers of social media, business owners would feel less alone and defeated,” explains Packer.
“It would empower them. It would give them strength. It would show them that with our support, they will come out the other side.”
The September campaign encourages all Instagram users to post about a new small business every day, using the hashtag #supportsmallseptember, and small business owners themselves are also using the tag to get their businesses in front of a greater audience.
Packer is also encouraging Instagram users to follow any accounts that catch their eye in the campaign and as Christmas quickly approaches, to “think small before you shop at global companies”.
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While Packer says she wants to encourage people to shop from these small businesses if they can, the campaign is about more than that.
“Many people can’t afford to purchase, so instead, at least for now, it has very intentionally been designed to cost nothing,” she says.
Packer ran a similar campaign in September 2020, which she says “lifted the morale of thousands of small business owners and their families” and helped businesses owners feel “heard and supported”.
She now plans to continue running the September campaign each year, with a goal of growing its reach and impact each time.
The Small Business Community is a “passion project” for Packer, who volunteers her time to run it, with the help of a friend who is also volunteering her time.
The community is currently free for small businesses to be part of, with Packer sharing small businesses each day to help promote them at no cost.
However, there are plans to introduce a paid membership tier, called The Small Business Family, which will offer a mentoring program for business owners.