The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is questioning the nearly $200,000 being spent by Auckland Council on Facebook and LinkedIn advertising, saying that is being wasted on mere propaganda exercises.
Figures obtained by the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance reveal that $187,870 has been spent on social media advertising by Auckland Council in the 2015/16 financial year, with $164,287.32 being put towards Facebook advertising, and $23,582.96 spent on LinkedIn. This is part of Auckland Council’s total marketing and communications spend of approximately $26.2 million.
Jo Holmes, spokesperson for the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, says:
“While no one would object to Auckland Council using Facebook to get public information to residents, these figures make it clear that it is being spent on propaganda branding exercises. Ratepayers get absolutely no value for that.”
“In addition to the out of pocket costs, ratepayers are paying for over 100 spin doctors to sit on Facebook and monitor what people are saying about the Council. The Auckland Council Communication & Engagement Department employs 104 communications staff, and council-controlled organisation ATEED employs 19 staff for branding alone. This is an area where Auckland Council can tighten its belt and ensure ratepayers do not get slapped with more unnecessary rate hikes.”
“Ironically, much of the money spent on LinkedIn was on jobs to manage the Council’s Facebook page. The job descriptions such as ‘Online and Social Media Content Manager: Arts & Culture’ and ‘Communications Advisor – Social Media (CBD)’ suggest that the role is divided into both geographical and topic areas. Just how big is this social media army?”
“Councils should be more concerned with delivering essential services like libraries and local infrastructure in a cost-effective manner, not spending hundreds of thousands on increasing their Facebook ‘reach’.”
“One of our favourite Auckland Council Facebook posts was shared today, titled ‘How Auckland Council Works: A very (very) simple guide’. Its one and only comment from a member of the public was simply: ‘it doesn’t’”.