September 11, 2012
On September 5 American Express Open and Facebook announced the winners for their Big Break for Small Business competition, which selects five promising small businesses and helps them to optimize their brand development, marketing, and customer outreach practices, a press release reports. This competition illustrates the increasingly important role that social media is playing in the success of growing businesses.
The Fall 2012 American Express Open Business Monitor reported that 41 percent of small business owners plan to integrate more social media into their marketing and promotion strategies. As Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms in the nation, companies can reach a vast customer base by making use of such features as Facebook Pages, Social Plugins, and Ads. “Many small business owners are on Facebook but are unsure how to utilize all that the platform has to offer--we are here to help,” said Laura Fink, vice president of American Express Open’s Social Media and Shop Small division.
Each of the five winners of this competition will enjoy one-on-one sessions with marketing and social media experts from both American Express OPEN and Facebook. During these sessions, the winners will learn ways to use Facebook to maximize customer outreach and marketing results. They will also receive $25,000 to implement the strategies they learn and discuss with these experts.
Among the five winners is Courtney Tellefsen, whose local produce delivery business, The Produce Box, serves over 7,000 households in North Carolina. Tellefsen told Fox Business that she sees the competition as, not only a way to further help her business serve its customers, but also a way to help other businesses in her area with the marketing knowledge she learns through the program. “Our business is all about community,” she said to Fox Business. “We want to spread that knowledge [of social media marketing] to the community at large.” Cory Shifter, owner of New York’s Casale Jewelers and one of the five winners of the competition this year, shares a similar community-oriented philosophy. He explained to Fox Business how his involvement in community charities helped him to win. “That is how we made the top 10,” he said, “By helping the community--the judges were impressed with how much we do.”
The alliance between small businesses and their communities is one of the primary aims of the Big Break competition. After participating in their individual sessions with marketing experts, the five winning businesses are encouraged to invite other small business owners in their area to discuss marketing and social media strategies with a panel of experts from both American Express Open and Facebook. Furthermore, businesses that benefit from the competition’s educational sessions can use their new marketing and social media knowledge to promote the Small Business Saturday event on November 24th, a day that encourages consumers to patronize small businesses in their area.
The Big Break for Small Business competition is highly selective, with 11,000 applicants in its pilot year of 2011 and 12,000 applicants for the year 2012. However, small businesses who do not participate in the competition can still learn a great deal about social media and marketing strategies by researching optimal web marketing strategies on their own. For example, the website Business 2 Community provides the following tips on effective use of social media in the marketing of one’s business:
- Use a Facebook Page rather than a Facebook profile to promote your business, as Pages give you more flexibility, better search engine optimization, and a wider audience.
- For Twitter updates on your company, avoid putting handles at the beginning of a tweet, as doing so can narrow your audience.
- Use Pinterest to organize content from your company on multiple boards rather than a single one. Using multiple boards to organize the different categories of content that are relevant to your company will allow you to provide more detailed and high quality content that is easy for consumers to find and read.
Compiled by Kaitlin Louie
"Five Small Businesses Receive Marketing Makeover from American Express OPEN and Facebook and $25,000," businesswire.com, September 5, 2012
"Has Your Company Graduated From Social Media School Yet?" business2community.com, September 10, 2012, Bill Faeth
"Small Businesses Get Tips from Facebook and American Express Open," smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com, September 7, 2012, Kate Rogers