Following the success of last year's Small Business Saturday, a number of online giants are teaming up to help local owners make this year's event even more prosperous.Facebook, Google and Twitter, among others, are joining with American Express, which founded Small Business Saturday, to offer a free toolkit designed to help small business owners get their cash registers ringing this holiday season.Held last year for the first time, Small Business Saturday – which falls on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend – is a national initiative encouraging consumers to shop at small businesses. It also was created specifically to recognize the importance of small businesses and their contributions to the economy, job creation and local communities.According to American Express, small business merchants saw a 28 percent rise in sales volume during last year's Small Business Saturday, compared to the same day in 2009."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," Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president of American Express OPEN, said in a prepared release.Small business owners are encouraged to take advantage of the free online toolkit, which includes:
Facebook Ads — American Express is giving $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 business owners who sign up. For small businesses that don’t yet have Facebook pages, American Express will offer a tool that takes them step-by-step through the free page-creation process.
Video Creation Tools — Google and American Express are partnering to offer small businesses My Business Story, a free tool for creating and posting free online videos about their businesses. With My Business Story, small business owners can create personalized, professional-quality videos for YouTube, social networks and business websites.
Twitter Follow Button — Small business owners will be able to place a Follow button on their websites, allowing consumers to follow them on Twitter with one click of the mouse.
YourBuzz — YourBuzz is a service that helps small businesses reach more customers by enabling them to view and respond to customer reviews and online mentions all from one place. For Small Business Saturday, YourBuzz is giving a $100 credit for LinkedIn Ads for up to 6,500 business owners and $100 in additional advertising credits on Facebook. Business owners also will get 50 percent off any package from Pagemodo, a company that helps small businesses create professional Facebook pages.
The toolkit also includes downloadable, point-of-purchase displays for small businesses to let customers know they are involved in the initiative. The displays 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 also are available for businesses looking to conduct email campaigns. With an eye on boosting consumer interest in the initiative, FedEx recently announced it would give away $1 million in $25 Shop Small American Express gift cards for use on Small Business Saturday. Thirty thousand of the gift cards will be available, first-come, first-served, starting Nov. 1 on the FedEx Facebook page. FedEx will distribute an additional 10,000 gift cards directly to its customers.American Express is giving its card members incentives by offering a $25 statement credit when they register their card and spend $25 or more on Small Business Saturday at any qualifying small business that accepts American Express.Finally, Women Impacting Public Policy, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for small business issues, has created the Small Business Saturday Coalition — a group of 200 advocacy organizations that plan to raise awareness for Small Business Saturday and motivate consumers to shop at small businesses this holiday season.This year's Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 26. To access the toolkit, visit the Small Business Saturday Facebook page