Corny, inexplicable YouTube videos featuring low-rent animations. Expensive, unhelpful efforts to get attention on social media. The web marketing efforts of a mid-range Toyota dealership in Fort Worth? No. This is apparently the outreach strategy employed by our very own Department of State.
The latter tactic came to light last week with the release of an inspector general's report outlining the department's Bureau of International Information Programs' spending on trying to get Facebook likes. Over two years, the group spent $630,000 on advertising campaigns that generated millions of likes on Facebook. The inspector general writes:
IIP's four global thematic English-language Facebook pages had garnered more than 2.5 million fans each by mid-March 2013; the number actually engaging with each page was considerably smaller, with just over 2 percent "liking," sharing, or commenting on any item within the previous week.
Or, as the IG drily notes, "A consensus is emerging that developing numbers of Facebook followers and Twitter fans may not lead automatically to target audience engagement." This is a consensus that emerged in the private sector some time during the Bush administration.
Nonetheless, the inspector suggests that the IIP does have some effective tools. For example:
With effective use of technology, IIP has made a significant contribution to the Department of State’s (Department) digital diplomacy outreach effort, increased the reach of its publications, and expanded the use of video in public diplomacy (PD) work.
Via Max Fisher at The Washington Post, here's one of those videos.