According to Yahoo! News, the United States’ State Department spent $630,000 in an effort to publicize itself on the social media web site Facebook – and to prove success via the number of persons it got to click the ‘like’ button.
A report from the State Department which was just released indicates that the governmental agency spent the huge amount of money for one specific reason – to get ‘like’ clicked on its Facebook page though the engagement of those ‘fans’ was not apparent.
Jen Paski, who is a spokesperson for the State Department, spoke on Wednesday at a press conference regarding the issue of concern. She claims that the agency is spending much less money on advertising now than in the past. She asserts that the agency used to spend $315,000 annually, but is currently only spending $36,000 per year. According to Paski, $2,500 per month is now being spent on online advertising which she alleges is a large decrease. She defends the online spending because she claims it is a way to communicate with a wide range of persons who live overseas.
The lengthy report of 57-pages which was written by the inspector general of the State Department reveals that the number of Facebook ‘likes’ went from approximately 100,000 to an excess of 2 million within a two-year time span. The report also reveals that the purchased ads also increased the number of fans on the foreign language pages on Facebook. Those pages now have more than 450,000 fans. But again, the engagement of those new fans is not evident.
Critics within the State Department claim that the method of buying ads to get people to click ‘like’ is no more than buying fans, and it really doesn’t mean that people are getting engaged on the Facebook pages. It is believed that many only click on an ad or click on a photo’s ‘like’ button without having any real interest in the governmental topics. An extremely small percent of Facebook users who found their way to the State Department’s page have had any real engagement on the page – such as posting comments on the articles. Specifically, only about 2 percent actively ‘liked’, shared, or commented on anything on the Facebook page within a scrutinized week.
Another sign of the money being wasted is that the report says that the State Department’s targeted audience for the Facebook pages was older and more influential persons. That segment of society was not adequately drawn to the Facebook page in spite of the mass advertisement bill.