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The cost of Facebook: Loudoun economic development dept. spends $20K per year on social media site

A promoted post from the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development.
Getting your message out in the cyber world can come with a steep price tag, and in Loudoun County, some local officials are no strangers to those costs.

Loudoun County's Department of Economic Development budgets $20,000 of taxpayer dollars for Facebook advertising alone, officials say. According to the department, those costs go toward landing new companies within the department's targeted industries, which, in turn, generates “millions of dollars in direct revenue to the county.”

The cost to sponsor an ad on Facebook can range anywhere from $5 to $350 depending on what you select for projected reach.

On Facebook, ads can help boost brand awareness, generate more traffic to your page and increase engagement.

Economic development officials said they purchase ads and sponsor posts on Facebook to get the attention of CEOs, site selectors and business influencers.

When asked what kind of return on investment the department has gained as a result of the online ads, Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer said the ads are part of his department's overall strategy.

“It’s a much more complicated story than I think just saying, ‘Loudoun spent $15 on a Facebook ad and they didn’t get any response,'’’ Rizer said. “That’s not the story. The story is we’ve been very successful by using a data-driven and a precise marketing program that has led us to be the top economic development organization in the country.”

At least one county supervisor has also spent money to sponsor posts, though an aide for Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) stressed they do not use public dollars to do so. Higgins has boosted at least two Facebook ads on his public Facebook page.

One promoted the the possibility of an animal quarantine facility coming to Dulles Airport, and another promoted a tour he went on with School Board member Eric DeKenipp at Lucketts Elementary School.

Supervisor Higgins' Chief of Staff Stacy Carey said in an email that their office uses Facebook, email newsletters and hard copy newsletters to communicate with constituents. She said the Catoctin supervisor recently started using

Facebook to target his message to the community. He spent $50 for each ad, which was paid for out of pocket and did not use any taxpayer funds, Carey said.

A sponsored post from Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin). Higgins' chief of staff said they do not spend public money on social media ads.


Nothing wrong with using facebook too communicate or advertise. Why blanket the entire county with flyers when you just want to target a specific group? Facebook and Twitter are selling demographic data that can be used to target one’s audience. He would save money using such ads as opposed to sending out newsletters in bulk.

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