As Black Friday enters full swing, complete with extremely slashed prices, droves of groggy pajama-cloaked shoppers and the horrifying tales of fist-fights and gun fire, a new buzz is growing online over Small Business Saturday.
Officially launched last year by American Express, to create a stronger connection with the local brick and mortar establishments in your neighborhood, the newly minted day has built a great deal of support by using social media.
Small, local businesses have been hit hard by the growth of big box stores and online companies that offer deep discounts and low-cost or free shipping. Because of the online evolution, small business account for 11% less of the retail share than they did 20 years ago, according to American Express.
Small Business Saturday has smartly built a strong online buzz, using social media such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
The official Small Business Saturday Facebook page has attracted nearly 2.5 million followers -- tens of thousands of which are highly active on the page.
On Twitter, #SmallBizSaturday has been growing its momentum -- though it has nothing on #BlackFriday which is the top trend on Twitter at the moment.
As an interesting aside, the promoted people spot on the #SmallBizSaturday search has been paid for and secured by the verified Twitter account of presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann. These spots get auctioned off by the highest bidder but it is unclear how much this spot went for.
American Express states that small business merchants saw a 28% rise in sales volume during last year's Small Business Saturday, compared to the same day in 2009.
The Small Business Saturday Consumer Spend Survey 2011 showed that 61% of consumers plan to shop at locally-owned clothing and accessories stores on November 26 -- that equates to roughly 89 million people.
Tens of thousands of small businesses have partnered up with the social media blitz for this new shopping holiday and the of the ways that American Express is encouraging their partners to promote, all are extremely social media heavy,
The site encourages small business owners to:
• Create Facebook Ads — American Express gave away $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 10,000 business owners to sign up. For small businesses that don’t yet have Facebook pages, American Express provided a tool that to walk them through the Facebook page creation process.
• Video Tools — Google teamed up with American Express to help create personalized business stories on YouTube.
• Twitter Follow Button — Small business owners were shown how to make sure that their business website included a Twitter button to allow people to easily follow then.
• Check 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.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two well-known shopping days that have grown in popularity without any affiliation with a company, Small Business Saturday looks like it might gain enough steam this year and next year to be the first shopping day started and sponsored by a major global company and rooted in grass roots social marketing solutions.