“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.

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