The Foreign Office UK tests Channels

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK – what or who is that  you might think, surely some boring Government stuff. Government stuff, yes. Boring? Far from it.

FCO’s core function in (very) short is according to themselves to “promote and protect Britain’s interests abroad” . Now, that sounds like a modern version of the old colonial times, but in fact it isn’t. The FCO’s activities and offices in over 170 countries worldwide help Britain keeping a good relationship with other countries, including their 14 overseas territories like i.e. Bermuda or Pitcairn Islands. British people living abroad can get help and postgraduate students or researchers from countries across the world are granted scholarships by the FCO, which supports a positive development especially in poor countries.

Over the past year, FCO has thrown itself with enthusiasm into Social Media, realising that this is a great way of reaching out to people all over the world, not politicians, but rather normal people like you and me. In their blogs, their representatives around the world pick up a lot of current issues and discussions they encounter and which do not necessarily reach the daily news stream. A gem and great additional news source for everyone interested in global politics.

As part of their social media mix, a Twitter account was launched, and @foreignoffice is now the most mentioned and retweeted UK government department. FCO uses Twitter mainly for giving helpful information to their followers worldwide, this also includes promoting  their blog articles about current issues. Over 17000 followers confirm that this has not been entirely useless…

In order to make it easier for people to follow their blogs and to see which are the most talked about topics, they now started testing Twingly Channels. Via their blog-RSS-feed all blog posts will be fed into the FCO-Channel. While you find all articles in chronological order under “Incoming Stories”, “Top Stories” shows only the ones most retweeted, linked by  other blogs and commented on or simply “liked” in the Channel itself. So readers get an instant overview of “what is hot” among all the FCO-topics.

Like Jimmy Leach says in his blog post, this is not such a big thing really, especially since lots of Channel-features are still to be developed during autumn. But it will be very interesting to see how Channels can help FCO getting more readers engaged in discussions, either on their blogs or in their channel.

FCO also runs its own YouTube- and Flickr-Channels, and there are also Facebook Pages in several languages, take a look at the whole range. Jimmy is by the way the guy that pulled off FCO’s successful social media strategy and you can reach him on Twitter or on his blog. He loves dialogue and appreciates feedback.

If you are interested in global politics and want to know more about matters that are not big in daily news, then get subscribed to the FCO-Channel and feel free to comment and “like” articles there or directly on their blogs. Definitely let FCO and us know what you think. Commenting or tweeting are the best ways to reach us, or in our case, we collect your ideas and answer your questions here.

What do you think?

//Anja Rauch

How much does the Social Web care about Traditional Media Online?

That could be a question worth investigating, we thought. Not that we are the first ones to do so, but we decided to dig into that by using our new kid on the block, Channels.

As you know, Channels are now in open beta and free to play with. If you haven’t checked it out yet, then put this onto your list of fun tasks for your lunch breaks to come.

Anyway, we also had a play with it. We set up a news channel for each of a selected country, mainly based on the RSS of the biggest national newspapers. Then we took a look at which articles ended up in “top stories” of each Channel.

Which article or item gets listed as “top story” in a Channel depends on
– how many blog entries link to them
– how many mentions in microblogs like Twitter
– how old they are (publishing date)
– how many “likes” they get from Channel users
– how many comments they get from Channel users

Since Channels is quite new, there are clearly not many “likes” or comments from users yet. Which is nice for this little analysis right now. We will however launch more features quite soon, which will make Channels quite a powerful tool, and a very flexible one to use, too. So bear with us, please.

Now, these are our “candidates”:
UK Germany France Netherlands Spain Portugal Poland Sweden Norway and Italy.

What we wanted to see, was how blogs and tweets respond to news articles, thus pushing news into “top stories” and that way making them the headlines of the day in the social media sphere.

Comparing all these, there are quite some striking scenarios to look at. The strongest Channels in terms of linking blogs and tweets are without a doubt UK and Sweden. Taking a closer look at both, one notices that all top stories on the Swedish Channel usually have far more blog posts referring to them than tweets! In Norway it looks largely the same – almost all top stories get discussed more on blogs than on Twitter.

In the UK and Germany, news, it seems are increasingly more discussed on Twitter rather than on blogs. The majority of top stories in these Channels get partly a massive amount of tweets, but only a few blog posts refer to them.

That raises the question – is there a stronger blogging culture in Scandinavia? Here at the moment represented by Norway and Sweden? Do 14 million people (almost 5 million in Norway, about 9 million in Sweden) have more bloggers or better saying more active bloggers that link to news sites than a nation with over 60 million people like the UK? Or is it the “Twingly Effect” on our home grounds Sweden and Norway, as we sometimes secretly call it? In both countries almost all major newspapers show blog posts that link to them, most of them using  our Blogstream solution, or, like Aftonbladet, their own solution.

It could also be simply a difference in culture. It is much easier and faster to share opinions via tweets in fast paced countries like i. e. UK and Germany, rather than typing up a blog post. From my own experience I know that life here in Sweden is much calmer, means one has the peace of mind to write up some more complex thoughts that need more than 140 characters. If you ask me, I think it is a good mixture of both.

What about the rest?

The Dutch and Spanish are tweeting and blogging quite a bit, too, articles being more quoted in tweets than blogged about. Same scenario with the Portuguese and French, just with a slightly lower intensity. In Italy and Poland we see  few to no links, regardless whether they come from tweets or from blog posts. This scenario corresponds pretty much to what we know from friends in these two countries. Italy being more of a TV-country due to known reasons (watch i.e. Videocracy if you haven’t done so yet), and in Poland it seems the development simply isn’t that far yet. However, the Polish social media development will be really interesting to follow over the next year or two.

According to Channels, these newspapers are the celebrities in terms of who gets quoted most on blogs and on Twitter:

UK: The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph
Germany: Der Spiegel and Focus
France:
Well mixed scenario with Le Monde Le Figaro Le Point and 20minutes leading
Spain: Another good mix with El Mundo and El País leading
Portugal:
Publíco (a customer of ours for Blogstream, we’d like to point out proudly)
Netherlands:
De Telegraaf (another news site with Blogstream) and NRC Handelsblad
Norway: Verdens Gang (uses Blogstream)
Sweden: Dagens Nyheter Expressen (both with Blogstream) and Aftonbladet (running their own solution resembling Blogstream) lead.

It could be interesting to see if the described scenarios would shift in any direction, if some newspapers online would start using a trackback solution, start showing and promoting  links from blogs linking to them. Could there be another increase of links from blogs for sites like Guardian or Spiegel? Or could other, even smaller newspapers become equally popular?

Would you like to share any thoughts or experiences on this? Go ahead. Especially when you think, we may have missed something important, be it a source in one of the Channels or anything else. On that note, Times.co.uk we could unfortunately not take into account because of their pay-wall.

//Anja Rauch

Europe’s 50 most popular startups according to the blogosphere

Photo (CC): Eneko

In February, TechCrunch Europe published the latest version of its TechCrunch Europe Top 100 index, a list of most innovative and promising European/EMEA web and tech startups. The list which was compiled together with startup tracker YouNoodle Scores is based on a score for each startup which was created using a “sophisticated algorithm using information from thousands of online sources” such as traffic, mainstream media coverage, funding etc.

While waiting for an update of the list, we thought it would be cool to see how these companies rank considering their buzz in the blogosphere (similar to what we did with Twitter clients recently). By using data from our Twingly Blog Search, we measured the buzz these startups were able to create within the global blogosphere from May 1 to July 31. Here is the result with the rank of the TechCrunch Europe Top 100 in brackets – we only publish a top 50 list because the number of blog mentions of some of the other services was not significant enough to create a sound ranking.

01 Spotify (8)
02 Stardoll (5)
03 Dailymotion (2)
04 Tuenti (11)
05 SoundCloud (14)
06 TweetDeck (53)
07 Netvibes (17)
08 Twingly (75)
09 fring (26)
10 Shazam (28)
11 DailyBooth (54)
12 Tweetmeme (37)
13 eBuddy (10)
14 Nimbuzz (98)
15 Jimdo (84)
16 Miniclip (38)
17 Trigami (see here) (79)
18 Voddler (48)
19 Netlog (4)
20 Qype (27)
21 Layar (56)
22 Deezer (21)
23 sevenload (30)
24 ShoZu (57)
25 Trovit (67)
26 zanox (9)
27 Bambuser (51)
28 MyHeritage (19)
29 Vente-Privee (1)
30 FigLeaves (59)
31 Plastic Logic (16)
32 Skyscanner (41)
33 Zemanta (55)
34 eRepublik (45)
35 Swoopo (42)
36 brands4friends (77)
37 Wonga (52)
38 MobyPicture (58)
39 Zopa (40)
40 Doodle (62)
41 Rebtel (36)
42 Jolicloud (93)
43 Fon (29)
44 Modu (25)
45 Mendeley (61)
46 Twenga (47)
47 uberVU (66)
48 Markafoni (49)
49 amiando (88)
50 We7 (78)

Notes
Being able to make users blog about a web startup does not necessarily mean that its products or services are good. Furthermore, consumer oriented web tools and blog centric services usually get more coverage on blogs than business-to-business companies, which is why the list is dominated by these kind of apps. Having said this, publicity is a requirement for succeeding as a tech startup, so the startups in this list seem to be on track regarding user awareness!

In some cases the search results were interfered by Spam postings or articles mentioning the same word, meaning something else. We then had to remove a part of the findings, which led to a lower ranking. When you study the list keep in mind that this is not the one and only, definite ranking, but it for sure gives you some useful information about which services are being discussed the most in blogs all over the world.

We might start to publish this ranking regularly. If your Europe based startup is getting a lot of buzz and is missing in the ranking, or if you know a service that could be popular enough to appear on this list, please let us know in the comments, so that we can include it next time!

/Martin Weigert

Interview: Social Media and Politics in Germany

This week politicians, journalists and other organisations gather in the city of Visby on the Swedish island Gotland for the yearly “Almedalsveckan” to discuss and connect (Twingly is there, too!). As last year, one of the main topics will be the effects of the digitalisation on politics and campaigning.

Since the spotlight is on for politics, we wanted to take the chance and give you an insight into the state of digital politics in Germany, another important Twingly market. How are German parties using Social Media to engage with voters? How do Germans react, and what are the main challenges? We spoke to Patrick Brauckmann, an expert in the field of political online communication.

Patrick studied politics, law, theology and European business. He wrote his dissertation about “Online-Communities in the German parliamentary elections of 2009”, has been and is involved in several political initiatives, founded a communications consultancy with focus on “Online Campaigning” and contributes as a freelance editor to different publications focusing on digital politics. His private blog is kampagnen-fabrik.de.

Hi Patrick! The German parliamentary elections last fall was the first time when parties in Germany made heavy use of Social Media for their political campaigns. How much success did they have?
That depends on the perspective. If the goal was to increase the number of voters, than the online campaigns did not have a huge impact. But if the goal was to retain voters and loyal following, then it worked out quite well. At least until now Social Media did not help the German parties to gain new voters, but it helped to keep existing voters committed.

So the parties succeeded in engaging those people that already did support them?
Yes, and I think in that regard German parties keep up pretty well with their US counterparts. The web has become the foremost communication and organisation tool, both regarding the parties own sites, but also regarding social networks (Facebook, German studiVZ), Twitter and blogs. But it’s mainly about connecting to the existing voter base of each party, not a real election campaign where parties fight to get the people’s sympathy.

Many politicians in Germany try to replicate the “Obama effect”. Do you think this is possible considering the country’s different culture and mentality?
This is the question every campaigner in Germany would like to get the answer for. In my opinion it is possible, but people must not forget that Barack Obama did not create his reputation and image online, he just leveraged the web to spread and communicate it. The politician Obama who gathered 250.000 people at the Siegessäule in Berlin does not necessarily need the web. But the (political) web needed him to realize how to use the Internet for reaching out to the citizen.

How did Germans react to the new ways of having a dialog with politicians and parties?
The Internet filled a gap that TV and print media left wide open due to their lack of possibilities for a two-way-communication. It enabled participation and opinion making, which you can see every time a topic from the political agenda becomes subject of discussions. It’s now usually the web where the public debate starts. On the other hand, these debates are in most cases limited to the “Digital Natives”, so huge parts of the German population are still absent from the political dialog online. A recent study from the University of Hohenheim found that TV and print media still are the two preferred sources of information about politics, followed by the web which now ranks before radio. Only 13 percent mentioned the Internet as their number one source. It’s much more in the US.

Is there a party or candidate who excels in digital communication?
There are some who use Social Media in a smart and effective way, who run an interesting and regularly updated blog, Twitter stream or Facebook page without just pushing their press releases, instead encouraging users and potential voters to have a dialog. It seems as if the smaller parties have a lead over the the two big parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), since their flat internal processes and structure makes it easier to engage in the fast paced online communication and conversation. Furthermore, their members often are younger and their affinity for new technologies is higher.

What happened after the parliamentary elections?
As one almost could expect, what followed was silence. Websites, Twitter streams, YouTube channels and Facebook profiles were not updated anymore, the dialog stopped. But after a few month, things picked up again, probably also fueled by the state election in Germany’s biggest federal state Nordrhein-Westfalen in May this year. Still I’m afraid the next boom for digital political communication won’t happen before the next parliamentary elections.

What advice would you give parties and political individuals for their future online campaigning?
Choose the right online instruments carefully and use those in the best way possible. Politicians should focus on engaging in solid and convincing political debates, not on being present on every existing web site imaginable. If they use Social Media for those debates, even better. But if they don’t do anything else than creating noise without adding value, they might be better off staying away from the Social Web.

/Martin Weigert

From Stockholm to Berlin: Interview with SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung

As you already might know, here at Twingly we like to support our fellow Swedish startups and Internet founders. And not only those with a great taste for colours. Even those who decide to leave Sweden and to start a web company somewhere else in the world, like Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss who created Berlin-based SoundCloud.

SoundCloud is a platform for DJs, artists and producers who like to connect with colleagues and friends and to present and discuss their latest tracks and releases. Founded in 2007, SoundCloud is now very close to one million registered users and has become a significant player in the digital music business.

At last week’s Next Conference in Berlin, I had the chance to talk to Alexander about why they left Stockholm to start SoundCloud, about the differences between Swedish and German web culture and about why it can be pretty difficult to be productive in a city like Berlin.

Hi Alexander. Spotify, one of the most talked-about music start-ups in the world, is based in Stockholm. How come you didn’t choose the Swedish capital for starting SoundCloud?
Since SoundCloud was part music platform and part social network, we didn’t want to launch the site only with our Swedish friends as the first registered members. So we thought it might be good to move to another city and to leverage the contacts we make there for creating an international platform from start. We had several cities in mind but in the end we chose Berlin, mainly because of the good music and club scene, but also since it was and still is affordable to live and work there.

How long did it take you and your co-founder Eric Wahlforss to plan the move to Berlin?
Actually less than a week. Everything went pretty quickly. In the beginning we stayed at and worked from friends apartments or cafes. It was really helpful that we already had some people in Berlin we knew, and a lawyer supported us with the administrative work.

What was the biggest challenge after you had started the company?
There was a lot of paper work and bureaucracy involved in starting the business, and in the beginning we had some trouble with our broadband operator – which can be a huge problem when you are running a web start-up. But otherwise, most things worked out fine. Berlin was a great choice, since we were so close to our main target group – DJs, producers, artists. We went out clubbing almost every weekend, tried to increase the size of our network and asked people on the dance floor to start using SoundCloud. That was fun.

What are the differences between the Swedish and German start-up scene?
I think everything is less centralized in Germany, since there are several big cities with strong web companies. This might also be the main disadvantage for the German market from a global perspective – what’s missing is a central hub where resources, talents and knowledge is concentrated. Another difference is that here in Germany there is much more secretiveness surrounding the web business. People don’t want to talk about what they are working on. And of course (corporate) people are a little bit formal. Something that a Swede has to get used to 🙂

Even after many years, Berlin is still extremely popular among young urban people from all over the world. Why is that?
The atmosphere and culture in Berlin is very unique. Since the costs for living are still low, people can afford to only work a few hours per week, and do the stuff they want the rest of the time. Some folks are like professional club goers. And the consequence is that people in the creative, media and Internet world are much more understanding and tolerant when someone comes to a meeting a little bit later, and with a hangover. Nevertheless, if you want to create a company, you have to work hard, which means that you need a lot of discipline here not to get tempted too often to enjoy the Berlin nightlife.

Still, some people say Berlin needs to become Europe’s Silicon Valley
It is definitely cheaper to start a company here than in most other cities. And recently many web start-ups are either moving to Berlin or launching here. So maybe one day Berlin will become an important European hub for Internet companies…

/Martin Weigert

Photo: Jyri Engeström

t-online.de connects with bloggers!

The biggest German general interest portal t-online.de started to reach out to bloggers!

Since a couple of days there is a little Twingly-box with linking blog posts to the down-right hand side of each news article.

And there are a lot of top news to link to – from the smallest electrical driven car to name dramas and the latest gossip around the German football team in the World Championship to come.

So take the opportunity and be part of one of Germany’s largest websites – we hope you get lots of new readers by linking to t-online.de!

As for us, we are just very proud to support t-online.de’s social media strategy and look forward to a strong and successful partnership.

kino.de & video.de – Film-Bloggers’ Paradise

From now on the German movie and video portals kino.de and video.de connect with film-blogs!

kino.de (“Kino” = German for “Cinema”) is currently Germany’s biggest film-portal, providing you with all the latest details about movie releases as well as  stories and facts about your favorite actors. You can also check what’s on in which cinema right now and discuss hot film topics in their community.

video.de is the little brother of kino.de and gives you the latest updates about new movies to be released on DVD.

So don’t be surprised to see traffic coming to your blog from these sites.

Embrace it and continue linking to these so that your opinion can be part of the latest movie- or DVD review!

If you are interested in showing up on kino.de or video.de, just don’t forget to ping us so that these two sites can find and display your reviews on their pages!

Connect! europaportalen.se opens up for debate!

europaportalen.se is the leading, independent platform for the Swedish debate about everything concerning the European Union (EU) and Europe.

They relaunched their entire site today with lots of new features, all designed to make it even easier for users to join the ongoing discussions and debates, thus connecting people and Brussels with each other.

Twingly is very proud to be able to contribute to this effort by helping to connect bloggers to europaportalen.se via Blogstream.

Every time you comment on European topics on your blog and link to europaportalen.se, make sure you ping your posts to us. That way your comments will be shown connected to their articles and let you join the debate where it actually happens.

You want to get involved even more? Then try their great new video channel YouEurope where you can ask questions directly to members of the European Parliament. No worries, they do not use Chatroulette for that 😉 .

Now, off you go and heat up the discussion!

Welcome, Expressen!

Today we have the pleasure to give a very warm welcome to a longed-for addition to the Twingly Family!

This morning Expressen.se, one of the leading Swedish news sites with over 2 million unique visitors per week,  launched Twingly Blogstream. And Blogstream can not only be found on Expressen, but also on their editions for Gothenburg and Malmö GT.se and Kvallsposten.se.
The content of Expressen.se seems to be engaging for many of us in the blogosphere. During the last month as many as nearly 3000 blog posts linked to Expressen.se.
So if you are one of these bloggers writing about your views on a story like this, don’t forget to “twingla” from now on and share your views with Expressen’s readers!

Read also  Thomas Mattsson’s comment on “Bloggen om Expressen”, he is Expressen’s Editor-in-Chief.

Update: There is now also a nice Expressen-article about the Twingly launch today!

A year in Germany (oder so)

Soon it will be one year since Handelsblatt.com as the first German partner ever went live with Twingly – and in total it were twelve exciting and inspiring months for us working in the market of a country that is and has been so close to Sweden in many ways.

One can start with Gustav II Adolf’s invasion of Germany in early 1600, Swedish soldiers during the 30-year war on Saxon soil (battle at Lützen, close to Leipzig, where the same king found his death), the Hanse (Visby was in 1200 an important Hanse-town – and don’t say it is not Swedish, you Gotland critics 😉 ) and one must not forget Swedish soldiers joining the German army in WWII (to name a darker chapter of history).

Nowadays  there are lots of German tourists in Sweden, plus the silent invasion (as I’d like to call it) of Germans working in Sweden or finding their love there (me = one example), Swedes moving to Berlin for working and living (maybe loving, too?), Germans buying Volvos even though most still prefer VW, Mercedes, BMW, loving their Sony Ericsson mobiles, chatting on Skype and longing for Spotify – and maybe even for Twingly. Although we are a little different to Spotify or Skype.

Anyway, Germany in many ways is one of the most important business partners for Sweden. And in 2009 it also became one for us at Twingly.

During 2009 we probably went from “Who the f… is Twingly?” to “What? You don’t know Twingly? Check it out!” if you would have asked someone in the German blogosphere.

Some newspapers online joined us on our path of recognition in Germany by using Blogstream to connect their content with blogs. These are Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche, Karriere, Freitag, Lausitzer Rundschau, BILD and FOCUS. The last two decided to give it a few months try only, though, but keeping in touch and with our further development of services we are pretty confident to welcome them back as partners at some point later soon.

We also welcomed the German first shop to use Twingly to connect to blogs – check out Yomoy.

In 2010 there will be a few more German Blogstream partners joining which really glads us and we feel honoured to be entrusted with supporting them in their online strategies.

The year to come will bring new Twingly products and therefore also a greater variety of business models that will suit different types and sizes of businesses. All new products like i.e. Twingly Channels or Twingly Live (to name the ones already somewhat out there) will incorporate real time web – which has been stated as one of the top trends for 2010, as every digital native by now knows.

Twingly Live already now supports lots of events and conferences. Twingly Channels will be doing the same and a lot more like i.e. Social Media Monitoring for everyone or “channeling” the media around one event or in general givving the opportunity to get all important news in one place. Possibilities with Channels as we imagine it to be will be endless, and that’s why right now we work hard on getting all you want into place before we launch the open version some time in the first half of 2010. Stay tuned.

We will also develop our Enterprise Solutions like i.e. Blogstream further and it goes without saying that the results for Germany on the Twingly blog search will be better and better. Not sure if I have to mention this, but – we do love feedback and we want yours. So let us know if you have a great idea or a problem!

At this point I would like to say thank you to all our German business partners who allowed us helping them to improve their connection with social media.

But the same thank you goes to all the great people that I have met over the year online via i.e. Twitter but also offline and in real life on for example the Microblogging Conference in Hamburg, the re:publica in Berlin and the dmexco in Köln in September. It is just so nice to be a part of the German blog and social media world, although we are located rather remotely in Sweden. But thank goodness Germany is in the end only a couple of flight hours away. So thank you for your friendship, support and trust!

For 2010 the following these events are already scheduled: the MBC (so it hopefully takes place), the re:publica (tickets bought, hotel booked, flight to be booked) and the dmexco in autumn.

Also, since there are some quite innovative things cooking at our end we would be interested in taking part in some more happenings and/or competitions in Germany. Any hot tips, anyone, for what we absolutely should not miss this year? Get in touch.

Let’s bring it on in 2010 then! Or how was that again in German? “Es gibt viel zu tun. Packen wir es an”.

Looking forward to see you soon, in real time and in a brand new decade!