College spent over €100,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads since 2017

Global Relations and School of Business dominate College’s social media advertisement expenses

Trinity has spent over €100,000 on sponsored Facebook and Instagram posts since 2017, with advertisements from the Global Relations department accounting for over two-thirds of the expenditure on sponsored social media posts.

According to records released to Trinity News under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, expenditure on Facebook and Instagram ads from departments across Trinity have amounted to at least €102,643.36 in the last three years, with global relations and the School of Business together accounting for almost €95,000.

In a statement to Trinity News, a spokesperson for College said: “Paid social media forms an important part in student recruitment both nationally and internationally for the College.”

Between 21 January 2019 and 31 July 2019, €69,551.26 has been spent on sponsored Facebook and Instagram posts for global relations, considerably more than corresponding expenses from Trinity’s academic schools.

The expenditure is mostly comprised of Facebook advertisements promoting overseas recruitment events in countries such as the United States, Turkey and South Africa aimed at international students, and promotions of specific College courses and postgraduate study.

The School of Business has spent significantly more on paid social media posts than any other school, paying €24,606.62 for posts on Facebook and Instagram since the start of the 2017/2018 academic year. 

Paid posts from the business school are focused on the promotion of its masters’ courses, particularly on publicity for MSc and MBA open evenings 

Other paid posts have related to the school’s presence at career fairs in Ireland and emphasising deadlines for postgraduate applications. Additionally, the school has paid for sponsored posts to highlight its annual business and technology forum event.

While no expenses have been recorded for paid posts from the School of Business to date during the 2019/2020 year, sponsored posts have appeared in recent weeks on Facebook from the Trinity Business School Facebook page for its MSc programmes open evening on November 21. 

Trinity’s Public Affairs and Communications department has spent €3,400 on paid Facebook and Instagram posts since the 2017/2018 academic year.

Sponsored posts promoting Trinity which have appeared on social media in recent weeks include an Instagram ad for TCD Sport, a Facebook ad for a mentoring event from the Trinity Careers Service, and a recurring Facebook ad for Trinity’s open day on November 23.

2018/2019 saw a considerable amount spent across College on social media, with several schools opting to run ads on Facebook or Instagram which allocated no money to social media ads the previous year. These include the School of Computer Science and Statistics and the School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies which allocated 1,230 and 850 respectively to social media ads during 2018/2019. Neither school has recorded expenses on social media ads to date during the 2019/2020 academic year.

The School of Law’s expenditure has been more consistent, with 149.77 spent in 2017/2018 and 138.81 in 2018/2019. This year, the school has allocated a further 84.54 to ads on Facebook or Instagram since September.

Over €800 has been given to social media ads run by the School of Nursing and Midwifery and €961 has been spent on ads from the School of Education since 2017.

The School of Psychology has allocated €649.79 to ads on Facebook or Instagram and the School of Social Work and Social Policy has spent €190.69 during the same period.

Across both arts and science disciplines, many of Trinity’s schools have spent none of their funding on Facebook or Instagram ads in the last three years, including the School of Chemistry, the School of English, the School of Medicine and the School of Religion.

Sponsored posts on Facebook allow advertisers to target posts to users based on information such as their age, gender, location, and information listed on their profile such as their interests, education, and languages.

While creating a Facebook ad, the advertiser can choose their budget depending on the number of users who see or click on the post.

Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook in 2012, allows ads to be placed on users’ home feeds or on “Instagram Stories” as a video or still image between stories uploaded by accounts which the user follows. 

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.