You can “like” a Facebook status. You can “retweet” (RT) a Twitter post, because you find it interesting. You “pin” a photo to Pinterest to display your interests.
And in Sweden, if you’re lucky, the government has given you free reign over its national Twitter account, @Sweden. For those who do not use Twitter, it’s a social networking website which serves as a micro-blog with a 140-character limit. Tweets enable users to share thoughts, create a dialogue, and disperse information anywhere in the world in an instant.
In a national PR (to create awareness for Sweden) experiment with social media, the Swedish government has turned over its Twitter account to ‘ordinary’ Swedish citizens, “Curators of Sweden.”
It’s the first country to ever enforce such a Twitter project. The Curators share their “thoughts, experiences or opinions,” and as the initiative continues, “By means of the various curators’ narrations, not one Sweden is conveyed, but several.”
USING TWITTER FOR PUBLICITY
According to the project:
“In an age of mass communication and increasing globalization, a country depends largely on how it is perceived abroad. Political objectives, trade, investments, visitors, exchange of talent and creativity are all heavily dependent on the view of the outside world. Sweden’s development and future prosperity depend on strong relations with the outside world and a more active exchange with other countries in many areas. This is only possible, if more people are familiar with Sweden and become interested in the country and what it has to offer.”
While well-intended, the initiative has gained traction with international media (NYTimes) for “controversial” and very honest (intimate in detail) posts by a few of its curators. The current social media spokesperson, Sonja Abrahamsson or @Sweden/Sonja created an uproar over her recent posts:
If you had the power to control social media for your country, what would you write about? Is this a good (Democratic) idea? How does it create awareness? How should the country handle bad press? Should the government censor any topics, or allow curators to continue posting freely?