Born and raised in Heerlen, Lars Pacbier remains proudly connected to the city he describes as “having come a long way from being one of the major crime cities in the Netherlands” to winning the 2016 World Travel and Tourism Council’s Best Travel Destination in the World Award. In fact, Lars and his company FB4 have become one of the driving forces responsible for attracting international attention to Heerlen and the surrounding areas.
Launched in 2014, FB4 is a rapidly growing company that aims to assist businesses in reaching their targeted goals by launching and maintaining their marketing campaigns on social media platforms. As such this group of social media professionals ended 2016 boasting 250 clients engaged with their services. As a direct result, client companies gained increased visibility on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, resulting in their profit levels soaring.
The company have become so successful that they have been contacted by Facebook staff offering guidance and support in the best use of the social platform. While obviously pleased with this recognition, Lars stressed that the end decision on their role lies with their clients, their wants and budgetary limitations.
A Maastricht University alumnus, Lars started FB4 while completing a Masters in International Business. He attributes his business confidence and quick thinking to the educational environment created by his former tutors and his knowledgeable fellow students, always ready to discuss relevant topics and published articles. He added that being unprepared and unwilling to participate in these discussions saw students left behind.
Prior to FB4, Lars was the owner of Iloverestaurants.nl an online business started as a student of the Bachelor of International Business and Languages at Hogeschool Zuyd. He sold the company in 2014, at which point it was receiving more than 100,000 clicks per month from people wanting to visit restaurants, and it had become a conduit leading to major donations to the National Foodbank.
It could be argued that Lars developed his entrepreneurial spirit even earlier. At highschool, he worked as a part-time ‘vakkenvuller’ (filling shelves) at Albert Heijn, the major Dutch supermarket chain. He stayed with the company for 12.5years, working his way up to Team Leader. He is grateful for the support he received, and that allowed him to attend courses and gain experience in leadership and management: “I learned so many lessons about engaging with people.”
The future of FB4 looks promising. The company already offers training in the use of Facebook in social media marketing campaigns as part of their package to clients. Workshops and inspiration sessions can be also booked on the FB4 website by the general public. But for Lars and FB4, this is not enough.
They believe that the success of businesses in the future will entail a competent and comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the importance of social media platforms in marketing campaigns. More so, Lars claims that older people expect younger people, who have grown up with social media being indispensable in their daily lives, to have these skills.
In response, FB4 are working on an idea to train 250 students in Limburg “to become black belt social media” and thereby increasing their employability. The hope is for the idea to become reality by 2019, with FB4 running an independent academy offering training and resources for future students.
What does the next decade look like for Lars Pacbier and FB4? Sunglass-bright, it seems. By 2027, Lars hopes to have established 12 offices staffed by 100 social media professionals, proving complete service coverage to the Netherlands and encroaching into Belgium. He believes that social will remain strong within retail, and will have moved into the more traditional spheres of education and public transport. Lars sounds prepared reporting his fate: “…there will be more expected of us as a marketing agency.”