AmEx Helps Small Biz Use Social Media

While social media’s potential benefits for small businesses are clear, it’s equally clear that small business owners with limited resources and expertise are still having a hard time tapping into them. With that in mind, American Express is launching a new “Social Media Show + Tell” to help small businesses successfully adopt social media.

The AmEx Social Media Show + Tell, hosted on its newly-created Business Knowledge Share enhanced LinkedIn user group, consists of a series of videos in which representatives from the most popular digital and social platforms explain how they can help small business with marketing and advertising. This includes a step-by-step walk-through, beginning with the registration process and proceeding to how to generate (and sustain) online dialogue with customers. Members of the AmEx LinkedIn user group will also be able to ask questions directly of the featured expert.

No surprise, the first platform featured in the AmEx series is a little start- up called Facebook; the next video and online Q&A will be with a representative from Foursquare, with more social platforms to follow.

Penni Berns, AmEx’s vice-president of Americas Merchant Marketing & Insights, noted the company’s other efforts to help small business adopt social media, including the ‘Go Social’ tool, which “enables merchants to create and manage coupon-less offers;” “offering free Facebook ads to small business owners as part of Small Business Saturday;” and “partnering with foursquare to offer exclusive merchant Specials.”

As noted, there’s definite interest in social media among small business owners, but significant obstacles remain. In November I wrote about a survey of 1,972 small businesses by Constant Contact which found that the proportion of small businesses using social media for marketing and advertising increased from 73% at the beginning of 2011 to 81% at the end; meanwhile 63% of small businesses said social media is easy to use, up from 51%, and 80% said it is low-cost, up from 70%.

Around the same time, a Social Strategy1 survey found that 67% of small business owners were holding back on investing in social media marketing because they “don’t know where to begin,” and are nervous about the amount of resources needed to meet the expectations of social media users. According to SS1, 51% of small business owners are leery of sharing sensitive information, 50% say there’s too much social media to manage, and 44% fear “information overload.”

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