The Welsh Government has quadrupled spending on social media since 2018 – including on TikTok, which is now banned on staff phones. Figures released by a Freedom of Information request show how spending has risen on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Total spending (although these statistics do not include Visit Wales) was just under £550,000 in 2018/19. By calendar year 2022 this had risen to £2.37m.
The top spenders were on Facebook last year at £979,000 – vs £257,000 in 2018/19 – followed by LinkedIn (£594,000 vs £201,000).
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The Welsh government also spent £153,000 on TikTok last year. TikTok has now been banned from the work phones of Welsh Government officials and ministers. It follows a review by the National Cyber Security Center and a similar move by the UK government.
The Chinese-owned app is under increasing scrutiny for security and privacy concerns. It denies allegations that it is sharing user data with the Chinese government.
The Welsh Government said social media is an “essential and cost-effective way” to communicate directly with the people of Wales.
But Llyr Gruffydd MS, finance spokesman for Plaid Cymru, said: “Social media plays an important role in promoting Wales on the global stage, in terms of external investment and tourism opportunities, but when the stated spending does not include ‘Visit Wales’ . Campaigns that would positively promote our nation around the world, then questions should be asked about what return on investment the Welsh Government expects from spending in excess of £2.3m. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, the government should expect to look closely at such matters.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Social media is an essential and cost-effective way to communicate directly with the people of Wales.
“During the pandemic, we have increased social media spending to ensure as many people as possible have access to important public health information to protect themselves and others. We continue to use social media advertising to engage with the public and educate them on the important issues that affect them.”
The full figures of the Welsh Government’s social media spending
(These figures exclude all public, legal and transport notices, job advertisements and Visit Wales campaigns).
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