Clermont, Florida Alligator

Imagine a place with 28,742 residents and 28,700 Facebook accounts.

Welcome to sunny South Lake County – located about a half hour west of Disney World in Florida.

I set out to find real small businesses in the area who were using Facebook successfully. They had to be making money because of it.

Jennifer Smith, owner of Growin’ Like a Weed, a children’s boutique that sells gently-used children’s products, attributed breaking even in month one directly to Facebook. She’s since relocated and expanded.

How did she do it?

While I was waiting to speak with Jennifer one of her customers was leaving after making a purchase. Jennifer said, “Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook” as she waved goodbye with a smile.

That’s step one.

Jennifer also has a sign up sheet to keep in touch with her customers via email and Facebook. She said the list in conjunction with Facebook marketing has been her best advertising.

There’s step two.

When Growin’ Like a Weed ran an event promotion on Facebook for their store birthday party, they had 500 people show up as a direct result.

There’s step three.

In their best effort not to flood News Feeds with uninteresting posts, Jennifer says it helps to post only hot button items. With two people on duty – she splits up the Facebook posting work. They currently have 764 people that like their page.

Now enter Mr. Mark Reinhardt, owner of Cody Jacks Seafood Restaurant. Mark recently organized a local event known affectionately as the Redneck Yacht Club – a huge blown out lake party with live bands. He did it all through Facebook.

Hundreds of people showed up. It was legendary.

Mark’s advice to business owners who want to grow their business with Facebook is:

  • Focus local. Know who’s in your own backyard.
  • Spend about 2 hours a day maintaining your Facebook.
  • Don’t pummel your fans with sales pitches.
  • Be personal, only due a small percentage of marketing.

He spends time on Facebook with good reason (he was on Facebook when I walked in his office). Mark says that interacting and responding to his fans are what drives his business. More new business comes from Facebook than any other source for him.

Cody Jacks has 3,000+ fans.

While walking through downtown Clermont (a city in South Lake County) I noticed a new business who was in the middle of remodeling in preparation for a grand opening. They had a sign on the door advising to follow them on Facebook for status and updates.

A post on the Java & Jesus LLC Facebook fan page reads: “I am super excited this is coming to Clermont! We have needed a Christian Bookstore (in this area) for a long time. Can’t wait for opening day!”

The buzz is building. They’ve got 31 fans who’ve expressed the same type of excitement.

One of Facebook’s specific recommendations to small business is the offline promotion of their fan page. That seems to be a common key to success here.

A few steps later I found Deja’ Vu of Clermont, a woman’s clothing boutique. They put a sign up on their door promoting their Facebook page, too. When I checked out their fan page I saw them doing another thing Facebook recommends – engaging customers.

Here’s an excerpt from a post on their page:

“Hope you had an amazing opening day!”

and Deja’ Vu of Clermont responded:

“Thank You. We really appriciate your support. Can’t wait to see you.”

It’s strange to think that one website can create so much opportunity for business – but it does.


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