Does your small business need a big break? American Express Open just launched the “Facebook Big Break for Small Business.”

It’s a national contest that aims to help transform the way small businesses use Facebook to connect and engage with customers. What does that transformation look like? More authentic and more personal. Of course, it takes a little practice.

That’s why American Express OPEN is footing the bill for hands-on training at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. Five small businesses will win a two-day in-depth, one-on-one business makeover. Oh, AMEX is also offering a cool $20,000 in cash to drive your social media strategy forward.

"Small business owners are experts at customer engagement, but the tools and techniques for finding and engaging customers are quickly evolving," says Julie Fajgenbaum, vice president of Brand and Customer Marketing at American Express OPEN. "It's critical that business owners understand these new channels and platforms, which is why we are collaborating with Facebook to educate on the benefits of engaging customers through social media and provide real, tangible tips on how to do it effectively."

What should you expect? If you win, you’ll be tutored on how to maximize the power of Facebook to better market your businesses, products and services to existing and new customers alike. This is practical and personal training on best practices for using Facebook Pages, Ads and Social Plugins.

But don’t worry if you don’t win… Everybody who enters will get to see the training as documented on OPEN’s Facebook Page and the OPEN Forum. You can also tap into a slew of “how to” videos. And even if you don’t win, you could still walk away with $2,500 in Facebook advertising to help you target new customers.

Nearly half of small businesses said they use social networking sites to communicate with customers and market their products, according to the latest results from the semi-annual American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor. This represents a substantial increase from 2009, when only one-in-ten respondents reported actively using social networking sites. Facebook is the most popular social media site for small business owners, according to the 2011 survey.

"Facebook is committed to the success of small businesses," says Adele Cooper, director of Global Customer Marketing and Communications at Facebook. "Using Facebook, a business can find new customers, let their customers recommend and share information about their business, and create loyalty by hosting an ongoing two-way conversation. This word-of-mouth-marketing is unique to Facebook and allows businesses to create a more personal and engaging relationship with their customers."

Here’s how to enter: Visit and submit answers to a short questionnaire describing how you would use the competition's winnings to better their business. During the first round of judging, 10 small business finalists will be selected by a panel of judges. 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.