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Facebook Finalists are a Learning Lab for Local Business

American Express OPEN and Facebook have announced the 10 small business finalists in the Facebook Big Break for Small Business, a national contest that has the lofty goal of transforming the way small businesses use Facebook to connect and engage with customers. Over 11,000 small and local businesses entered the contest, aiming for an all-expense paid trip to Facebook headquarters for an intensive two-day makeover of their Facebook business presence, plus a $20,000 cash prize.

Take a look at the websites these mainly local businesses have built, and what they are doing already on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  While it’s too late to enter the contest, your business can still be a winner by learning from what the finalists are already doing online.

Naturally, winners will be chosen by “fans” and other followers of the finalist businesses themselves, not by Amex or Facebook.  Starting now, anyone can vote for their five favorites among the 10 finalists to win the trip to Facebook and prize by visiting  You get five votes, but only one vote is allowed per business. The deadline is July 19. Here are the finalists:

Our personal favorite here at BizBest is Viesso.  In part that’s because we’re only a few blocks from their showroom ourselves, but also because the entrepreneurs behind Viesso seem to be pretty web-savvy and already have a leg up on using social media to build their business.  

Meanwhile, AMEX OPEN has just launched YourBuzz, a free tool to help small businesses manage their online presence, learn what is being said and about them and their competitors, and connect with customers in the places where they are most vocal—social media.  This is another in a series of so-called “reputation management” tools that are being launched for local businesses.

YourBuzz offers a consolidated view of what customers have to say about your business across CitySearch, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other popular sites, and respond when necessary. The platform will also let you consolidate customer contact information from the Internet and manage it from YourBuzz. Here are other things you can do with YourBuzz:

Manage Online Presence

  • View existing business listings
  • Claim and edit business listings
  • Create new business listings

Learn What Customers Saying

  • See how you stack up against your competition
  • View an aggregation of customer reviews and online mentions
  • Respond, re-tweet, take actions or create a new conversation on major social sites
  • Get recommendations on different actions to take

Manage Online Connections

  • Import customer profiles and contact information to segment direct marketing efforts
  • Highlight influencers in your Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Market to these contacts directly based on available public information

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