Even though lockdown in Mexico is not as stringent as in other countries, small businesses, and the restaurant industry in particular are suffering from the restrictions here as well. While small businesses have had to close down, others are successfully fighting their way through the crisis thanks to social media.
The beginning of the pandemic in Mexico in March 2020 was particularly difficult for many of them, as 43-year-old Jeremy tells us. He runs the Café Chiquitito (coffee shop) in Mexico City. “Things changed overnight, we had to slow down and didn’t know how to keep our employees,” he says. Luckily, the cafe had a few savings that were gathered during the first months of the pandemic onset. Jeremy used such savings to invest in new online sale platforms offering online “To Go” orders and deliveries. This is how he has continued paying his employees to date.
In Mexico, adversity not only makes people more creative, but it also gets them closer!
The #Contagiaamorlocal hashtag, in particular, is helping coffee shops as well as other small businesses that have been hit hard as a result of the economic crisis. Since early January, more than one thousand posts have been published in Instagram using this hashtag. Customers are asked to publish products they buy from local stores with the hashtag and the merchant’s account. This is giving them more exposure and new customers.
Great Social Media bonding
According to Jeremy, social media bonding in Mexico is unique: “We cannot wait for someone (government) to help us. We manage it differently in Mexico: entrepreneurs connect, you create a social group, and everybody supports each other.”
The beginning of a business thanks to Instagram
Elizabeth and Marce are friends and were in shock at the beginning of the pandemic, especially Elizabeth. She works as a freelance producer – many projects had to be canceled. Nevertheless, the two friends managed to start a small business out of necessity. “Chamoyitas” is how they call themselves and they sell healthy, homemade Mexican snacks. “We rushed to promote our products on Instagram and received great support from both friends and acquaintances who shared our posts.” Although the income is not huge yet, it is good enough for paying rent and other fixed costs.”
Social networks as the most important tool
In other countries, small businesses often receive financial support from the government during the pandemic. In Mexico, however, entrepreneurs are getting creative and turning to social media: a cheap and easy way to generate new customers and attract attention.