The Bureau of International Information Programs spent the money between 2011 and March 2013. It's unclear why, exactly, the organization felt the need to increase its "likes." However, the bureau's English-language Facebook page likes increased from 100,000 to over two million, while the likes on its foreign-language pages rose to 450,000.
The inspector general said:
Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as "buying fans" who may have once clicked on an ad or "liked" a photo, but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further.Despite the numerical success, the effort fail to engage the bureau's target audience, which is skews toward older and more influential people that then Facebook members that liked its pages.
In fact, only a scant two percent of the Bureau of International Information Programs' fans actually engage with the pages by liking, sharing or commenting, according to the IG. This is a result of a lack of strategy for reaching the target audience, the IG added.
The absence of a Department wide PD [public diplomacy] strategy tying resources to priorities directly affects IIP's work. Fundamental questions remain unresolved. What is the proper balance between engaging young people and marginalized groups versus elites and opinion leaders?The Inspector General noted that the State Department has failed to coordinate the social media efforts between its bureaus, which could be seem as wasteful and leading to duplication of effort. According to the IG, there are more than 150 social media accounts attributed to State Department bureaus, and they often overlap.