FCO spent :20,000 on Facebook fans

I was browsing www.gov.uk, UK government’s website, and found a rather interesting Freedom of Information request, which asked the FCO for the Department’s annual expenditure on the following for the last three years:

1) Online advertising;

2) Facebook advertising; and

3) Twitter advertising.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST REF: 0633-13 (29 July 2013)

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/236699/FOI_0633-13.pdf

The most interesting tidbit mentioned in the document, in my view, is that the FCO spent :20,000 on the following: Diplomacy & Strategic Campaigns Group: Facebook advertisements for Middle East posts – To increase the number of fans on Middle East and North African Embassy facebook pages from 20,000 to 150,000 by June 2011. As a wave of change swept the region we needed to boost our presence to influence events and position the UK advantageously (Feb 2011)

It is interesting that the FCO thought Facebook was a good way to reach out to the people of the Middle East and North Africa directly, and perhaps it was, given role social media played in the Arab Spring, or perceived to have played. However, I wonder whether with hindsight the FCO believes it was money well spent or not.