The photo-sharing social media app will now include stickers to order food and gift cards from restaurants or support their fundraising efforts.

By Jelisa Castrodale
April 15, 2020
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Near the end of March, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger launched SaveOurFaves, a website that connects Bay Area locals with several hundred restaurants and coffee shops in and around San Francisco, allowing them to easily buy gift cards online, make a donation to the restaurants' staff, or both.

Instagram

"There’s been a lot of talk about 'flattening the curve' of the coronavirus outbreak—slowing the spread to reduce the burden on our healthcare system," Krieger wrote in a Medium post about his decision to develop the site. "We hope SaveOurFaves will help 'flatten the curve' of lost income for restaurants—giving them the resources to make ends meet and preserve the livelihood of wage earners during this difficult time."

Although SaveOurFaves remains focused on Marin County eateries, starting today, Instagram is rolling out a new feature that will make it easier for bars, restaurants, and other small businesses throughout the United States and Canada to connect with their customers.

Businesses can now share stickers for gift cards, food delivery, or fundraisers in their Stories, and on their profiles—and everyone else can re-share those stories on their personal accounts, making it easier to spread the word about those spots that are still offering takeout, or those that have started Facebook fundraisers to help them pay their employees (or their power bills). "For many businesses right now, every sale helps," Instagram said in a statement. "We'll continue to work on features that make it easier to support the small businesses you care about."

In addition to placing a delivery order by tapping a hard-to-miss "Order" button in a restaurant's Story, each participating restaurant's profile page will also have a 'Gift Cards' button that—you guessed it—allows customers to purchase an online gift card.

Instagram says that the gift card and food order features will both be available in the U.S. and Canada starting today, and they'll be rolling out globally "in the coming weeks." Fundraisers are coming soon—which gives restaurants a couple of days to get their Facebook pages going.

"Small businesses are the backbone of local communities and restaurants are the soul of neighborhoods: they bring people together and build community. We want to do our part in helping them stay open, keep in touch with customers, and be informed on how to navigate this crisis."

Instagram has already been a way for chefs and restaurant pros to stay connected with the world beyond their kitchens, by offering quarantine cooking demonstrations and hosting virtual dinner parties. (And yes, there are tutorials for baking that inevitable loaf of sourdough bread too.) Some chefs, like Nashville's Sean Brock, charge a small fee for their online classes and demos, and then use those 'attendance fees' to pay their workers.

Anything that makes it easier to support our favorite restaurants (and ideally directly, not via commission-charging apps) is welcome during this crisis. Plus, we already spend way too much time on Instagram—at least now it can serve a real purpose.