By Karen Axelton

Do you use Facebook to market your business, but wish you knew more about how to maximize this social marketing tool? Or maybe you haven’t explored the world of Facebook marketing yet. Both types of business owners can benefit from entering a new contest sponsored by American Express OPEN and Facebook.

“Facebook Big Break for Small Business” is designed to help transform the way small businesses use Facebook to connect and engage with customers. One winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to Facebook headquarters for a two-day “boot camp” and a $20,000 cash prize.

To enter the contest, visit and submit answers to a short questionnaire describing how you would use the competition’s winnings to better your business.

During the first round of judging, 10 small business finalists will be selected by a panel of judges, including Laura Fink, of American Express, Adele Cooper of Facebook, Guy Kawasaki of Alltop and John Battelle of Federated Media. Each submission will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Commitment to their business and growth;
  • Overall social media need where Facebook could improve their business;
  • Energy and enthusiasm for small business.

Finalists will then compete in a final round of judging where OPEN Facebook fans will be asked to vote for their five favorite small businesses to win the trip to Facebook and $20,000 prize.

Even if you don’t win, you’ll have a chance to learn from this contest: The experience from the Facebook training sessions will be documented and appear on OPEN’s Facebook Page and OPEN Forum ( The sites will also post “How To” videos where Facebook answers small business owners’ questions on how to effectively market on Facebook.

Hurry–the contest ends ends on May 20, 2011 at 11:59 PM ET.