As Berks County faces a resurgence of COVID-19 and a need for extra precautionary measures, it is important to find ways to continue to support the small business foundation of our community.

Many of our beloved local restaurants, shops and farms are struggling to survive the challenges of 2020. Oftentimes when businesses close, the conversation surrounding the fallout is filled with people claiming they would’ve done more if they had known of the dire situation or had the money or time to spare.

With that in mind, here are five things you can do right now to give your support to local businesses during this pressing time, and many of them won’t cost you a dime or more than ten minutes of your time.

Leave an Engaging, Positive Review

Positive online reviews are like magic for small businesses. Especially when it comes to platforms like Google.

Did you know that 63.6 percent of people look to Google for reviews before deciding to engage with any given business? Did you further know that nearly half of consumers will flat-out refuse to do business with an organization, restaurant, or store that has fewer than four stars?

This is why going the extra mile to leave an effective positive review for the local business of your choice is so vital.

When deciding to leave a positive message in support of your locale of choice, remember that not all reviews are created equally. While brief, generic reviews like “Great Place!” or “10/10! Will be back!” are certainly appreciated, they aren’t quite as engaging as they should be.

The next time you leave a review, try going into detail about the atmosphere, service, food quality, and safety protocol adherence. Also, with food delivery seeing a major increase these days, it can be helpful to include details regarding this aspect.

However, do your best to avoid shouting out specific delivery apps, as these services can sometimes eat into the profit of the business you are ordering from.

Follow and Interact With Their Social Media Pages

Another fantastic and effective way to drum up business for local companies is by interacting as frequently as possible with their online and social media presence. Generally speaking, the more online interaction a small business has, the more they are able to grow their consumer base.

Following a local organization’s social media pages is extremely beneficial for the continued advertisement of their business, but even simple actions like reacting to, commenting on, or sharing the content of a local business can be exceedingly helpful when it comes to their ability to reach new customers.

Be sure to follow your preferred local business of choice across as many platforms as possible including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube if applicable. Doing so will allow their message to cast an even wider net.

Participate in Social Media Contests and Give Them a Shoutout

Though this entry can be seen as an extension of the previous one, it’s important and useful enough to merit its own section. Oftentimes, local businesses will think of unique and creative ways to engage with their customers and community online.

For example, they may decide to kick off a social media contest, where products, services, or other things relating to their area of expertise may be awarded as a prize. If you see this happening on your social feed, don’t hesitate to join in! Such contests can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Even if you aren’t necessarily interested in what these businesses are promoting, your participation may put these companies in contact with people who are. In fact, recent research has shown that over 34 percent of new page fans for any given business are acquired through giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes. For this reason, be sure to react, comment, and share as often as you can!

Talk About Them With Everyone You Can

Even in the modern digital age, word of mouth advertising is still one of the most effective ways to convince new customers to try out a beloved local restaurant, shop, or service provider.

It’s simple human nature to trust the word of your friends, family, and relatives over internet strangers, and that’s why it’s vital that you keep your positive experience alive through simple conversation.

Are you a big fan of that local clothing shop on the corner? Tell your friends about what you got there! Interested in that locally-owned bookstore just a few blocks over? Tell your friends how cool it looks!

Whatever small business you love for any reason, tell anyone and everyone you can all about it!

Buy From Them Whenever Possible

We know that this past year has been a struggle for many, not just local businesses. Unfortunately, that may result in a limited ability to buy from the local companies you love.

Nevertheless, these companies are in desperate need of your support right now. Whenever you can, please consider opting for food, goods, and services from smaller, local businesses rather than megachains and big-box retailers.

Not only are you supporting your community and local economy when you do so, but we can’t help but think that a locally-sourced meal tastes just a little better, a locally-made gift says a little more, or that a locally-performed service is just a little more personal.

Whenever you wish, as often as you can, choose local.