When Global News reported last week that the department of Veterans Affairs had spent more than $100,000 on promoting its tweets last year, the outcry was immediate.
“It’s just wrong,” Liberal critic Frank Valeriote said.
But it turns out a lot of Canadians tuned in.
The tweets received almost 13 million “impressions” online – including views, retweets, replies and favourites.
Mostly geared towards Remembrance Day, the promoted tweets were used “to reach out and engage young Canadians, allowing them the opportunity to remember and pay tribute to Canada’s veterans,” a department spokesman said.
The English campaign received 8.8 million impressions, while the French campaign received 3.9 million, for a total of 12.7 million on the social media site.
Veterans Affairs spent $103,694 on the tweets during 2013-14, which is only calculated up until March 25. The department was allocated $4 million for government advertising in the first quarter of 2013, according to the Treasury Board.
Global News also requested more information about other departmental tweets.
Preventing cyberbullying, support for Canadian athletes, and promoting health research news were some of the topics the federal government paid tens of thousands to promote on Twitter last fiscal year.
Public Safety Canada spent $51,000 between January and March 2014 on the government’s anti-cyberbullying public awareness campaign, Stop Hating Online. The department was allocated $4.5 million by Treasury Board in the third quarter of 2013-14.
The tweets resulted in 590,000 visitors to the website www.getcybersafe.ca, the department said.
Canadian Heritage spent $20,000 between April 11, 2013 and March 25, 2014 to purchase promoted tweets for Sport Canada. In total the department was granted $500,000 in the first quarter of 2013 to advertise on history and heritage.
The sport tweets were sent out during the Olympics and Paralympics this year between February 7 and March 16, and viewed more than 1.5 million times, the department said. The tweets were retweeted, or replied to, more than 116,000 times.
#GoC is wishing good luck to all competing Canadian athletes. #OurTeamCan do it! http://bit.ly/1n3iatp
And the Canadian Institutes of Health Research also purchased promoted tweets in 2014.
The federal funding agency for health research sent out one tweet over a two-month span during February and March.
“Want the latest health research news and information about funding opportunities? Follow us!”
It cost $10,172.