Northumberland County Council spends thousands on social media advertising

New figures available for the first time reveal that council bosses spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on advertising with social media giant Facebook.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 5:30 pm
Northumberland County Council
Northumberland County Council

Northumberland County Council has spent at least £2,500 with either with Facebook or sister site Instagram in the 11 months since the twin platforms began publishing details of who places and pays for political and social adverts.

The figure is the third highest out of nearly 50 local authorities across Great Britain, according to research by JPIMedia Data team, part of the Northumberland Gazette’s parent company.

Yet the council insists “social media is increasingly a cost-effective channel” in which to engage with residents about important services and to encourage them to vote in May’s North of Tyne Authority directly-elected mayoral contest.

A County Hall spokesperson said: "We know that people like to receive their information in different ways and social media is increasingly a cost-effective channel we use to engage with our residents, along with more traditional methods such as face to face or through newspapers.“The spending for the North of Tyne Authority was to encourage people to use their vote.

“This was the first time the region was voting for a directly-elected mayor and it was important people understood their role and how to vote.“Other key county council campaigns were to promote adult social care apprenticeships, fostering information events and a survey about our waste service."

The data shows the county council paid £2,5010 for 15 adverts to promote its own services and on behalf of the combined North of Tyne Authority.

The exact figure for the period between October 8, 2018, and September 7 this year is unclear as the precise cost of two additional adverts costing less than £100 each do not have to be disclosed.

The new JPIMedia Data team figures reveal that £430,000 was spent on political by a combination of local councils, councillors, MPs, MEPs, MSPs, PCCs and Mayors.

Local councils spent more than £20,000.

Facebook said: "Our industry-leading tools are making it easier to see all political ads on our platforms and archives them for seven years in Facebook's Ad Library. People are able to report concerns to us or regulators as appropriate."