State Dept. Spent $630,000 to Increase Facebook Likes for 4 Pages

Friday, July 05, 2013

The main propaganda arm of the State Department spent more than $600,000 over two years to get more people outside the U.S. to “like” four of the agency’s Facebook pages.


The idea came out of the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which wanted to engage with foreign audiences.


For $630,000, the bureau managed to increase the fan numbers for each page from about 100,000 to more than 2 million, according to a report from the inspector general.


But some employees within the State Department objected to the plan, saying the agency was merely “buying fans.” Of the new people attracted to the pages, only 2% actually “liked” what they saw, or shared or commented about them.


The bureau eventually stopped spending so much money to cultivate followers after Facebook, in September 2012, changed its approach to users’ news feeds. “If a user does not interact with a site’s postings, after a time these postings will no longer appear

in the user’s news feed unless the site buys sponsored story ads to ensure their appearance. This change sharply reduced the value of having large numbers of marginally interested fans,” the report said.


Now, only about $2,500 a month is spent on online advertising by the bureau, with an emphasis on “sponsored story ads.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

IG report: State Department Spent $630,000 to Increase Facebook ‘Likes’ (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

Inspection of the Bureau of International Information Programs (State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors Inspector General) (pdf) (see pages 21-22)


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