Five small business owners will receive house calls from American Express OPEN and Facebook branding experts who conduct in-depth marketing makeovers. Winners also receive $25,000 in cash to implement the social strategies they learn. Support will be provided by digital agencies, such as Digitas.
Independently owned businesses with fewer than 100 employees generating less than $10 million in annual revenue can apply. Business owners who win can invite other local entrepreneurs to meet with a panel of social media and marketing experts to teach them how to use social channels for their business. In turn, the small business owners gain educational and brand-building tools, as well as $50 in free Facebook advertising credits. American Express card members and merchants who enter will receive $100 in Facebook advertising credits.
Answering a few questions provides entry for the small business owner. Laura Fink, VP of social media at Shop Small with American Express OPEN, said more than half of business owners use social media to attract customers. In 2011, the first year the two partnered for the giveaway, about 11,000 businesses entered.
Fink said AMEX's mission to help small businesses in turn also supports growth in communities. More small businesses adding jobs can help the economy.
An industry source said companies can advertise on Facebook for as little as $1 per day.
Most marketers believe that integrating social into search continues to be an important topic for search marketers. Earlier this year, Google engineers, along with the computer science department at Stanford University, analyzed the implications of selective sharing in Google+ and other social networks.
Doc Sheldon, founder of search agency Top
Shelf Copy, estimates the winnings should support a campaign for between six and 12 months.
A panel of judges will select 10 finalists, followed by voting. That's when Facebook Fans of the American Express OPEN Facebook page will choose five favorite small businesses.