“We can make it more interesting to blog about politics”

Twingly is being used by a host of different kinds of websites. Even political parties such as the Swedish Social Democratic Party integrate with our Technology to connect with the blogosphere. We had a chat with Natalie Sial, responsible for web and social media at the Swedish Social Democratic Party, about how politics, social media and blogs influence each other.

Engaging in social media is being seen as crucial for today’s politics. Do you think it actually is still possible for a party to not interact with the people online?
No, I don’t think it is possible for anyone to mobilise or interact today if you are not present and visible online.

Can you give us a quick overview about your social media activities?
We want to reach voters on their platforms of choice. More than 50 percent of the Swedish population is on Facebook. Therefore it’s an important platform for communication and dialogue. We interact and let people have political dialogues on fan pages and we profile our political leaders on Facebook. Then we have Twitter which plays an important role for transparency and for spreading information. We tweet for example live updates from our press conferences and events as well as about everyday issues. Our YouTube channel is also pretty big and we upload everything from whole speeches to shorter clips about policies and presentations. Furthermore we organise progressive bloggers (red, green, independent) on Sweden’s biggest blog network Netroots. And our own website socialdemokraterna.se acts as the main communications platform, where all of our engagements on different social media channels are visible and centralized.

What is the story behind Netroots?
There wasn’t a good gateway to reach progressive bloggers in Sweden, so we are trying to fill that gap with Netroots.se which started in 2006. It is Swedens biggest blog network for progressives, gathering around 700 bloggers. We created the platform to make it easier for them to reach out. There are no representatives or board – it’s a network where blogger can share ideas. Since the network is so big now we saw a need for gatherings in real life. Small gatherings and meetings have been held around Sweden but now we decided to launch a national conference. From April 27 to April 29 in Stockholm we will be arranging the biggest event for progressives. The main topic will be methods on how to become a better net activist, blogger or opinion former using online tools. Special guests such as experts and bloggers from the US, UK and Middle East will be joining. You can read more on www.natrot12.se.

How much influence do bloggers nowadays have on politics?
It’s growing in Sweden. It was the bloggers that raised the health and auto insurance debate in the election 2010 which in the end was the only thing people were talking about. 70 percent of journalists today look at blogs and social media to get inspiration for news (according to Hans Kullin, slide 7). It is certainly growing. A lot of politicians take influences from people’s opinions which happens more often when an increasing number of people interact online.

You use Twingly to show incoming links from blogs. How has that worked out for you and what kind of feedback did you get?
For us it is important to show a bigger picture of political debates apart from the traditional media. We can never tell anyone what to think or write. But we can make it more interesting to blog about politics.

Recently the leader of Swedish Social Democrats was forced to leave his position. The story got a lot of media spotlight. How did this affect your social media activities?
Sweden has seen such levels of political social media activities before. The issues around our former party leader Håkan Juholt had great impact on many people and we saw huge numbers of tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates. We changed strategy and tried to open up as much as possible and tweet updates regularly about what was going on. We got positive reactions about that. The last year has been outstanding in regards to media coverage of our party – we couldn’t reach out in any better way than simply opening up and starting to communicate using all our online channels more frequently and cohesive.

The most discussed books on Swedish blogs in 2011

Photo credit: Flickr/Ian Wilson, CC BY 2.0

Two weeks ago we had a look at the most discussed news articles on Swedish blogs in 2011, based on the number of incoming links from blogs to the four biggest Swedish news sites. But since we have a lot of other partners who use Twingly technology, we can also create rankings for other topics. Like for example books. With Adlibris and Bokus – two major online bookstores in the Nordics – connecting to the blogosphere via Twingly, we have all data on the most discussed books from those two sites on blogs across Sweden. In the following ranking we show you the 5 top books from both stores that received the highest number of incoming links from blogs (naturally those are all in Swedish).

Adlibris

1. En dag – David Nicholls

2. Cirkeln – Mats Strandberg, Sara Bergmark Elfgren

3. Niceville – Kathryn Stockett

4. Matrevolutionen : ät dig frisk med riktig mat – Andreas Eenfeldt

5. Sarahs nyckel – Tatiana de Rosnay

Bokus

1. Cirkeln – Mats Strandberg, Sara Bergmark Elfgren

2. Matrevolutionen : ät dig frisk med riktig mat av Andreas Eenfeldt

3. Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann av Jonas Jonasson

4. Jag är Zlatan Ibrahimovic? : min historia – Zlatan

5. Happy, happy : en bok om skilsmässa – av Maria Sveland, Katarina Wennstam

As you can see, two books made it into both lists: ” Cirkeln” and “Matrevolution”. If you want to see what bloggers have written about the books in those lists and whether they are worth reading, click on a link and look for the Twingly widget on the product page.

Photo credit: Flickr/Ian Wilson, CC BY 2.0

“Without comments, any news site gets a certain PDF feel”

Dagens Nyheter (DN), Sweden’s biggest morning newspaper, has been one the first Twingly partners to integrate our widget solution into its website, back in early 2007. Today, five years later, we spoke with Björn Hedensjö, Head of Digital at DN, about how Twingly worked out for them, his view on the importance of blogs and comments as well as about what’s next for DN regarding social media.

DN was Twingly’s first client and integrated the widget in February 2007. What was the impact of that partnership and with what thoughts do you look back on 5 years of having incoming blog links showing next to your articles?
I started at DN in 2009, but the people working with digital there before me did a great job, and the Twingly partnership is a good example. The impact was big then and today we’re still a very natural environment for bloggers, and it’s important for us to put the incoming links in prominent positions on the site.

How has the role of the blogosphere changed for DN during the past years, and how important is it today?
I think it’s as important or more important today than it was a few years ago, despite the “competition” from microblogs and Facebook. I really feel blogs contribute in a unique way when they’re at their best, with in-depth coverage of current issues.

How much do you at DN actually work together with the blogosphere? What ways do you see for the future to leverage blogs even more for your site?
I wouldn’t say we work very actively with the blogosphere, but we link to blogs in articles when it’s relevant and of course all editors read loads of blogs. Also the Twingly partnership is important when it comes to tying us closer to the blogosphere. A senior editor of ours, Hasse Rosén, has recently started working with social and interactivity issues and eventually we’ll see some exciting results from that.

How valuable are reader comments for your web site?
Very important. Without them any news site get a certain, uncanny PDF feel.

If readers want to comment on one of your articles, they need to log in with Facebook, OpenID or a DN.se account. Do you find that to be the best solution to keep the quality of comments up?
It’s not the best solution, but it has proven to be a step in the right direction for us, I don’t think there are any easy or general solutions that fit all. We have plenty of ideas in the backlog, one being a rating or ‘like’ system, where users rate each others comments. That has been very successful on other news sites. Recently we also started working actively to encourage good comments by highlighting them, perhaps writing new articles based on them. But many things could be done to make it better.

How do you see DN develop in the future in regards to social media?
A closer Facebook integration is not an unlikely next step.

How will that look?
A little bit too early to say!

While there hardly seems to be anybody without a Facebook account nowadays, Twitter is still only a niche phenomenon in Sweden. Do you think that will change in the near future?
No, I think Twitter in Sweden is pretty much established as a meeting place for a tiny, influential minority. It hasn’t changed much since I got my Twitter account in 2008.

How much time do you personally spend with social media while at work?
Depends, if I have a not so busy day, which is rare, I allow myself to just enjoy them. Other days it’s strictly work, but I check Twitter and Facebook regularly.

What are the biggest trends in online journalism that you especially look forward to be able to work with at DN?
Open data services and quick, simple and direct ways to broadcast news. A colleague of mine recently shot, edited and published a very professional clip from a bus accident in minutes, all via his iPhone.

The most discussed news articles on Swedish blogs in 2011

Sweden’s four biggest newspapers, Expressen, Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet, might be different in many aspects, but they have something in common: Their websites all use Twingly to connect readers with the blogosphere.

So which articles did create the biggest buzz and engagement within the blogosphere in 2011? We had a look at the stats! Here is a list of the top 5 articles from each of the 4 newspapers which received the most incoming links from blogs.

Note that on each article page you’ll find the Twingly widget where you can see what the blogosphere said. And sorry, but it’s all in Swedish.

Aftonbladet
1. Missa inte Vilgot
2. Minst 85 döda i vansinnesdådet
3. ”Inför ny skatt för feta”
4.  Juholt föreslås bli partiledare
5. Här är ditt nya stjärntecken!

Expressen
1. Billström gav samma svar – 17 gånger
2. Usama bin Ladin är död
3. Nobelfesten 2011
4.  Ministrarna ville begränsa flyktingvåg
5. Marcus Birro: Lärdomar? Lita aldrig på små flickor i rullstolar,som ber dig om något

Dagens Nyheter
1. Usama bin Ladin dödad i USA-attack
2. ”Demokrati inte så viktigt för dagens unga svenskar”
3. ”Privatiseringar i välfärden har inte ökat effektiviteten”
4. ”Arkelsten förfalskar historien”
5. Norsk polis: Minst sju döda i explosionen

Svenska Dagbladet
1. SvD rapporterade direkt
2. Ministrar ville stoppa våg av irakier
3. Muslimsk högtid kan bli helgdag
4. Sluta straffa våra patienter
5. Brottslighet bland invandrare borde oroa alla partier