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How companies bought their way to top of Camden Council’s Twitter feed (without you knowing)

The Town Hall's sudden affection for Ted Baker had confused residents

28 November, 2016 — By Richard Osley

Tweet endorsement: Camden Council tells residents they can’t miss a Ted Baker sale event

CAMDEN Council pumped out social media posts advertising a major clothing label without telling residents it had been paid to do so, writes Richard Osley.

In a controversial advertising technique, council endorsements for Ted Baker, a designer clothes company, were sent out on Twitter among the Town Hall’s regular posts about life in the borough on its ‘Love Camden’ feed.

Residents were surprised to find the council’s sudden affection for the clothing firm after reading at least three separate posts which excitedly urged people to visit a sale that Ted Baker was staging in the Camden Centre.

One of the tweets was a “pinned tweet” – a fixed social media post which saw Ted Baker’s sale prioritised over community events at the top of Camden’s timeline.

 

It is common practice for news outlets to identify tweets which have been sponsored in this way. The case has raised questions about whether Camden should be recommending certain companies ahead of others without full disclosure as to why.

A council spokesman confirmed last night (Wednesday) that after a review “we will ensure that our social media posts indicate whether they are sponsored or not in future”.

The review into the advertising comes after criticism of how the council spent £60,000 on revamping its ailing Love Camden website – an online entertainments guide run in addition to the council’s main site – following feedback that people had stopped reading it.

Sceptics questioned the amount of money and officer time being plunged into the project when Camden is already well served with visitor information by newspapers, magazines, blogs and entertainments websites.

There are further questions about whether the council should be competing with local newspapers – publications which traditionally hold their work to account – for advertising.

A council spokesman said: “Businesses, including Ted Baker, pay to advertise on the front page of the Love Camden website. Ted Baker’s head office is based in St Pancras and they hold an annual sample sale at Camden Centre, so this particular business has a connection to Camden borough.”

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