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Facebook, Google and Twitter to support Small Business Saturday

Facebook, Google, Twitter and other innovators are joining with American Express to help drive more business to local, independent shops for Small Business Saturday 2011, which falls on Thanksgiving weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, Small Business Saturday will be on November 26.

In order to help small business owners get the cash registers ringing this holiday season, they are offering a business owner toolkit that will roll out over the next few weeks and will be available at

In 2010, Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express to help address small businesses’ greatest need: driving sales. It was also an occasion to recognize the importance of small business and their vital contributions to the economy, job creation, and local communities. The national initiative encourages consumers to shop at small businesses during the holiday season.

All small businesses, not just those that use or accept American Express, are able to participate. Most of the toolkit offerings were created to be relevant to business owners even beyond Small Business Saturday.

“Last year, we saw a 28% rise in sales volumes for our small business merchants versus the same day in 2009,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president, American Express OPEN. “An all-star line-up of partners is coming together to provide the tools to help make this year even more impactful for small business owners throughout the country.”

The free toolkit includes:

•Facebook ads: For the second year, American Express is giving $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 business owners who sign up. Facebook Ads help build online buzz and drive customer engagement because they can be targeted to people’s real likes and interests. In addition, for those small businesses that do not have Facebook Pages but want to take advantage of the free advertising, American Express will offer a tool that takes them step-by-step through the free Page-creation process.

•Google Tools to create professional-quality videos: Google and American Express are partnering to offer small businesses My Business Story, a tool to create and post free videos online about their businesses. Google research has shown that companies who effectively leverage video can expect better customer engagement and retention: online video boosts brand recall by 50 percent and likeability by 26 percent. With the free My Business Story tool, small business owners can create personalized, professional-quality videos for YouTube, social networks, business websites and more. This tool will be available in mid-October.

•Twitter Follow button: Small business owners can take advantage of Twitter’s Follow button to expand their marketing reach. These small businesses will be able to place a Follow button on their websites, and with a simple click, consumers will be able to follow them on Twitter.

•YourBuzz to help drive social media engagement: YourBuzz, an easy-to-use tool from American Express OPEN, helps small businesses reach more customers by enabling them to view and respond to customer reviews and online mentions all from one place. YourBuzz aggregates conversations across highly influential review sites such as Yelp and CitySearch, and social services such as Facebook, foursquare and Twitter, to ensure listings are accurate, build customer relationships, and mitigate the damage that can be caused by poor reviews.

For Small Business Saturday, YourBuzz will offer additional ways for small businesses to market themselves online. The tool will offer $200 in free advertising credits on two online platforms where discussions about small businesses take place: $100 credit for LinkedIn Ads for up to 6,500 business owners and $100 in additional advertising credits on Facebook (in addition to the aforementioned Facebook ad credits). Business owners will also get free offerings or 50 percent off of any package from Pagemodo, a company that helps small businesses create professional Facebook Pages.

•Go Social to promote coupon-less offers: In July, American Express launched Go Social, a one-stop shop for American Express merchants to create coupon-less offers for Cardmembers. Go Social simplifies the creation of customized deals for small merchants to further incent Cardmembers to shop with them. Cardmembers will find these offers on foursquare, Facebook and the new American Express Mobile App.

•Other tools to promote Small Business Saturday: The business owner toolkit will also include downloadable, point-of-purchase displays for small businesses to let customers know they are involved in the initiative. The displays will allow merchants to include their own branding, details about their business, and any special offers they are promoting for Small Business Saturday. Customizable email templates will also be made available for businesses looking to conduct email campaigns to customers and prospects.

One of the biggest Small Business Saturday supporters is FedEx. FedEx Office has announced a special 20% savings on all Small Business Saturday materials that can be printed via FedEx Office Print Online. The offer extends to all online print orders through Nov. 26, giving small business owners even more savings as they prepare for the busy holiday season.

Consumer incentives to shop on Small Business Saturday

 FedEx recently announced it would inject $1 million into the small business economy in support of Small Business Saturday by distributing 40,000 $25 Shop Smallsm American Express gift cards for use at small businesses on Nov. 26. A total of 30,000 gift cards are available, first-come-first-serve, beginning Nov. 1 on FedEx will distribute an additional 10,000 gift cards directly to customers.

 For the second year in a row, American Express will help drive traffic through the doors of small businesses with a special incentive: a $25 statement credit offer for Cardmembers when they register their Card and spend $25 or more on Small Business Saturday at any qualifying small business that accepts the American Express Card. Cardmembers will be able to register their cards in early November.

Lastly, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a non-partisan organization that advocates for small business issues, has created the Small Business Saturday Coalition. Already, the Coalition has enlisted 200 advocacy organizations to raise awareness for Small Business Saturday and motivate consumers to shop at small businesses this holiday season.

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