LoudounPreneur entrepreneurial newsletter
 Information for the Innovative, Enterprising and Brave
July 2014

Make Your Company's Facebook Page Work for You

Chances are, you're one of more than one billion active users on Facebook. There's even a pretty good chance that your company is one of 25 million small business pages housed on the social network - but are you taking full advantage of your Facebook presence?


In the face of Facebook's constantly changing algorithms, it's sometimes difficult to know if you're making an impact. Are you effectively reaching your current and potential customers, or is your voice getting drowned out?


More than ever, Facebook page administrators are running into a recurring problem. You have a number of people who have taken the time to "like" your page, but when you post a message, it's only reaching a small percentage of those people. This is done by design: Facebook wants your advertising dollars, and they've created a system in which you need to pay to play.


While this seems discouraging, there's actually a silver lining: Facebook ads can be incredibly effective for small businesses - at a fraction of the cost of traditional ads.


Think about it: you could spend $1,000 to run an ad in your weekly local paper, or $5,000 on an ad in a regional business journal. You would have decent local and regional reach, but whether or not you'll actually receive a return on your investment is debatable. With Facebook, however, you can spend as much or as little as you'd like, and tailor your message specifically for your intended audience. You'll have instant metrics that tell you what's working and what's not, giving you the ability to spend your advertising dollars in a laser-focused way.


In 2013, after years of running traditional ads, Loudoun Economic Development decided to put some money into social media advertising. It was a fraction of our ad budget, designed to test out this new advertising channel. We saw results almost immediately. Our Facebook posts were reaching more people, and our page was getting more "likes." We were building our audience rapidly, and they were becoming more engaged with our message. In the first month, we achieved a whopping 79 percent growth in Facebook "likes," almost doubling our audience.


While being popular on Facebook is great, it shouldn't be your company's goal, nor was it ours. Success in social media advertising is based on people taking action beyond just "liking" your  Facebook page.


For example, if you run a retail store and post a coupon on your Facebook page, you can measure success by how many purchases that turns into. For us, we measured success by how many people were leaving our Facebook page and visiting our website. In our first month, we had a 53 percent increase in unique website visits. The month after, we increased that number by an additional 43 percent! But here's the astounding statistic: the number of visitors who clicked through to our website from Facebook increased by 950 percent!


Not only were we building an audience, we were building an audience who cared about what we had to say - and we didn't break the bank doing it.


If you're interested in learning how you can use Facebook and other social media sites to grow your business, come to the Loudoun Small Business Development Center in Leesburg on July 17 for Increase Your Reach: Social Media Advertising for Business. The Loudoun Economic Development Digital Properties Manager will show you how to easily and successfully advertise on social media platforms, offering real-world examples and plenty of opportunity for discussion. Seating is limited; register in advance.


Get Some Gusts

In an entertaining corollary to the TV Show, Martin Zwilling posted "6 Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Think They Can Dance," on the website GUST. What is Gust? It's a place where entrepreneurs can enroll and describe their business idea, and where angel investors from around the world search for promising investment opportunities. It's sort of a Match.com for startups and investors!


The first step for an entrepreneur is to set up your company profile on Gust. As the web site states, "Your Gust startup profile contains the information investors want to know. Taking the time to complete it in a professional way will help you articulate your venture effectively to investors." There is no fee charged to entrepreneurs to use the site.


Gust offers users a number of resources, including a video library with investors' tips; educational blog posts; industry and startup data; and resources for investors as well.


Gust enrolls investors who are accredited to connect them to other investors and startups. Investors explore company profiles on Gust to find investment opportunities that match their interests. There are 36 business categories, allowing investors to target the types of companies they are interested in funding. Over the last 12 months, more than 1,800 startups have been funded through Gust.


In the Gust blog post mentioned above, Zwilling offers helpful info to startups preparing for investor presentations, such as:


  • Investors evaluate you as a person before they evaluate what you're pitching;
  • Don't try to "wow" investors with jokes;
  • Adapt your pitch to the investors in front of you;
  • In business, it's better to be over-dressed than under-dressed;
  • Practice your pitch!


Read the rest of Zwilling's advice here. To learn more about Gust, visit their site or check out this New York Times article.


Adapted from an article by Maria Brown, SoMNSourceLink - a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America's largest resource network for entrepreneurs.


Up Skill: Events and Training

1 Million Cups

Join us for six-minute presentations from Loudoun business owners. Engage in peer mentoring by giving the presenter the benefit of your knowledge and experience in resolving business issues and making companies grow.

Date:     July 9, 16 and 23, 2014

Time:     9 to 10 a.m.        

Place:    Mason Enterprise Center, 202 Church St., Leesburg

Cost:      Free, find out more online


Sourcing Veteran Talent

This free webinar is hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council Veterans Employment Initiative and presented by Leidos.

Date:   July 10

Time:   11:30 a.m.

Place:   Webinar

Cost:    Free, register online


Loudoun Federal Contractors' Networking Event

Attorney J. Patrick McMahon will present "Negotiating Teaming and Subcontracting Agreements from a Small Business Subcontractor Perspective."

Date:   July 22

Time:   5:30-7:30 p.m.

Place:   Mason Enterprise Center, 202 Church St., Leesburg

Cost:    Free; register online

Gut Check From a Guru

"You cannot keep determined people from success." -- Mary Kay Ash

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Loudoun Economic Development DC's Technology Corridor 
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