Has @Sweden’s democratic Social Media experiment paid off?

Posted on 15. Jun, 2012 by in Digital Marketing, Thoughts

Sweden has applied its heritage of social democracy to a slightly different area in recent months by handing the reins of the official tourist board Twitter account @Sweden over to the citizens of the country. Since December 2011, each week a different Swedish citizen has taken over the account and is free to post whatever they like, whenever they like, for seven days before passing the baton to the next Swede in line. ‘Curators’ of the account vary widely in age, have come from across the country and have varied backgrounds, which has provided both an entertaining and insightful look at Swedish life and culture as they share day to day observations and answer questions from around the world.

Whilst an interesting experiment in social media management in itself, the account has gained a little more press in the last week thanks to a feature piece in the New York Times and the tweets of the latest ‘curator’ of the account, Sonja.

Sonja’s seven days of fame started on Sunday 10th June and have proved to be one of the more controversial periods in the account’s history so far thanks to her unique way with (sometimes explicit) words, social viewpoints, personal disclosures and approach to conversation on the platform. A little look at her archive page on Curators of Sweden might give you an idea why.

For brands and organisations, determining the social persona of your social media accounts whilst retaining the integrity of the brand has been a key part of social media governance, as has deciding who to give responsibility for social interaction to within the company to manage the community and compose your messaging. Some brands such as Dell and Aviva have a number of named individuals helping to run specific Twitter accounts for the purposes of community management so that users know they are talking to a real person and can reference them in future if they get in touch with any other individuals via the account or offline. Others have multiple individual accounts for staff where these people are the brand online and speak with their own voice and name on behalf of the company. But what about considering letting the community manage you like our Scandinavian friends?

Visit Sweden have gone out on something of a limb by removing themselves from the day to day administration of their account, stepping back from some of the things that brands or organisations such are often most concerned about: content control, tone of voice, language use and consistency. Has it worked for them?

Well, the adage that there’s no such things as bad publicity seems to hold true for Visit Sweden as the follower numbers have rocketed in recent weeks alongside a slew of news pieces internationally, some in support of their ‘democratic’ social media move and others heavily criticising the possible recklessness of refusing to censor any content, regardless of provocation or possible offence caused. Even if people don’t always like what @Sweden has to say via its weekly curator, they are certainly starting to pay it more attention which was the ultimate goal of the project.

Source: Wildfire

Visit Sweden are sticking to their guns and supporting the rights of @Sweden curators to offer an authentic version of themselves on Twitter with the intention of showcasing the diversity of the country – whatever that may mean in terms of content. How the experiment pans out long term, and whether it delivers a measurable increase in tourist business for the country is yet to be seen but for now you can enjoy Sonja’s musings on life, the universe and Sweden until the next voice takes over this weekend.

It is big Sonja, it is.


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