“A social platform with voice recognition would be valuable, as long as it respected privacy”

Reza Sabernia - edit
Reza Sabernia

Interview with Reza Sabernia, founder and CEO of BrainMustard.

Hi Reza, please tell us which services BrainMustard provide?

BrainMustard offers a new way to scan and analyze Internet chatter and social media. We build comprehensive models of consumer behavior within the brand ecosystem. These models help our clients to find revealing, and often unexpected, insights about consumers, which in turn help companies enhance the customer experience and increase sales, sometimes by an order of magnitude.

Which type of companies benefit from your services?

The companies that benefit from our services are concerned about the consumer experience. Currently, our client roster includes a bank, a commuter railroad, a pharmaceutical company, manufacturers, retail stores (including the largest sports retailer in Canada, with 1200 stores and an apparel company in India), as well as world-famous drink brand Diageo, who sells drinks such as Captain Morgan, Smirnoff and Guinness.

What is your background and what made you start BrainMustard?

I studied computer science, specializing in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, and then received my bachelor’s of commerce degree from the University of Toronto. I received my MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

When I graduated, I worked in an employee recognition startup for over a year; however, I was working on the idea of building BrainMustard throughout that time. Previously, I worked in a firm that did social media security, trying to find Internet criminals online. The technology for semantic algorithms for understanding the Internet chatter was not that different from what we use for BrainMustard, so I learned about information flows online and how to analyze the content to see what constitutes valuable signals and what is noise. That knowledge helped me in forming the technology that is used for BrainMustard.

I saw that the tools used for social media monitoring and sentiment analysis were limited to tactical purposes. They’re tactical because they helped social media specialists and members of marketing departments read verbatim sentiments and itemized information, as well as engage in a direct conversation with users online, But there were no tools in the market that offered a big picture solution that professionals with more strategic roles could utilize to make decisions.

I also noticed that social media monitoring solutions specialists knew that end-users can only process a couple of thousand messages at best in any given month, while they had access to tens of millions of relevant content volume. Because they wanted 100% accuracy and relevancy, they threw away a lot of content. Some of that content was irrelevant, but a substantial amount of the discards embodied interesting information. Because of this practice, brands didn’t get all of that information, and were losing important data.

Based on that need in the industry, I created BrainMustard. We don’t throw away any messages; instead, we allow them to get crystallized into thematic clusters and organically form modules that can be studied. These modules can offer new and fascinating insights from social media. We have a bottom up approach; if cluster is irrelevant, it will be deleted in the very end when we know what it means, but it will not be thrown out just because we want 100% accuracy. We don’t mind examining a lot of noise in order to capture all the information that’s out there.

What are your responsibilities in your current role at BrainMustard?

I am the Founder and CEO of BrainMustard. I supervise technology and business development, and meet with new clients to see what their needs are and if we can offer value to them.

A big focus of mine is on innovation. For example, we are building technology to track customer behavior inside stores. We are working on identifying new ways to flag and tabulate information, which is a never-ending process. We work closely with our clients to see how we can offer them meaningful information. A big portion of our innovation comes from solving the problems for our clients.

What is the current focus for BrainMustard in the near future?

Our current goal is to offer generalized industry reports. We have been working with brands directly, but are now trying to create syndicates that would be useful for all the brands in a particular industry. It’s a challenge so far, but we hope to have it ready in the next few months. Currently, our focus is on customized customer experience maps and social influence maps, which I would say is the core of our business and an area where we outperform our competitors.

Can you give specific examples where one or more of your clients have made changes in their communication, products or similar, based on the information or analysis you provided?

Bauer Hockey came to us because they are dealing with a changing marketplace. To increase hockey popularity among millennials and immigrants, Bauer Hockey collaborated with NHL to build Wal-Mart-size flagship stores in the original six cities where the NHL started. Those six cities are really the hockey mother-ship, the places where hockey is the most popular. The goal of the stores is to offer a memorable hockey experience that resonates with the parents and the kids. Bauer wanted to know what matters most to parents whose kids play hockey. They believed that a major concern for parents was safety, and they wanted to make the focus of the stores safety.

However, after BrainMustard provided an analysis of the hockey eco system, it became evident that while safety was an issue for parents in general, it was not the main issue for parents of children who actually played hockey; instead, what was concerning to them was the ice time their kids would get during weekly practices and games. When the first store opened in Boston, its main focus was on the improvement of performance in order to allow children getting more ice time. Because of the innovative information that BrainMustard provided, the store is a huge success.

Another example is of a startup that became a very successful franchise and was actually acquired by a major coffee and beverage company. The founder wanted to offer exceptional experience for tea drinkers, but the problem was that he was trying to do it in San Francisco, which is a saturated market. BrainMustard looked at the social spectrum and identified segments, such as ritualistic drinkers and the health conscious.

We also focused on segments that were overlooked, such as stay-at-home moms. These are women who are career oriented and successful, but who choose to stay home after having children. The problem is these women can feel disheartened when seeing their peers climbing the work ladder, while they continue to be just mothers. These moms not only feel like they are missing something, but they also don’t have much to share at social gatherings. They can only talk about kids, while other women talk about their jobs.

To tap into this market, the founder and BrainMustard came up with idea of creating gears for the tea drinking experience that is exotic and has a story behind it. The gears consisted of pots and saucers and other items. The items encourage ritualistic behavior and a certain level of preparation. The founder would sell gears and offer workshops to prepare exotic teas, which had a story behind them. This strategy was a huge success because moms could invite friends over and have a story to share about that experience.

What information from external sources do you use today to make your analysis, and which are the most important?

We use information from many companies; one of the better ones is actually Twingly. We use Twingly for blog sources; their service is great. When we have questions or requests, they responded quickly. We also get information about Facebook users from another source, and are provided with forum content, as well as having our own in house solutions. And there are many others.

Is there any consumer data that is difficult to retrieve today that would help you provide an even better service?

It’s all about privacy today; for instance, Facebook data is great, but most providers provide it as an aggregate form. While that is good for dashboards, it is not very beneficial for insight to know what words people use and what are the main associations between brands.

Another source that would help us provide better service would be comments from Amazon, which can offer value because they’re words from exact customers who have used the product and are sharing their experience. Pretty much the rest is accessible, which is good news.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

Facebook information would be very interesting. As well, millennials are active in teleconferencing and voice software, so if there was a social platform with voice recognition, that would be valuable, as long as it respected privacy.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at BrainMustard?

Our greatest challenges are in developing ways to communicate findings effectively. Our findings are numerous and we work hard to make the narratives behind them understood. We are developing new technologies that will correlate what people do either consciously or subconsciously in the stores with what they say on social media. We’re working on being able to segment the market based on people’s actual store behavior so our insights won’t be based simply on what people say on social media.

How do you think the business you are in will change in the next 5-10 years?

We are not in a business that is as fast moving as some pure technology players in the market. In terms of insights, that will not change much because societies don’t change as fast as technology does. The output of our solutions wouldn’t change as much as the backbone of the system, which will. We have to keep up with platforms to offer solid coverage; while the output will not change that much; the technology used for the sake of presentation will change. For example, augmented reality and 3D printers are new innovative ways to offer a more tangible and interesting output with additional dimensions to clients.

By Renata Ilitsky

“Other forms of media monitoring is almost futile without adding Facebook Topic Data”

John RosenbaumInterview with John Rosenbaum, Nordic Social Media Business Manager at Retriever, one of the leading media monitoring companies in Scandinavia.

Hi John. What is your background and what is included in your current role at Retriever?

I attended university in Sweden wanting to get into sports medicine, ending up moving to the US and getting a scholarship to Hobart College for undergraduate studies in journalism, media and religion. Then moving on to Ithaca College where I received a master’s degree in communications. I became fascinated by companies, organizations and people who were able to communicate better than everyone else; those skills are evident in everything they do and how successful they are. It is actually rather rare that their ideas are that much better than the competition, it is mostly about communicating your idea, product or otherwise, in an attractive way.

When I came back to Sweden, I joined a startup called Lissly, where I was the first one in after the CEO. The idea behind that company was to challenge firms such as Retriever and Radian6, among many others, to really build a simple and effective tool to be able to get effective data, and then be able to do something with it, which I couldn’t do at my previous jobs.

In just two and a half years, Lissly was named the #1 social media monitoring tool in Scandinavia based on an independent and in-depth analysis of all media monitoring tools. What was interesting at the time was that Retriever came in a close second, where I am now working.

However, eventually, I began to feel that the company wasn’t going in the direction I had wanted, and wasn’t improving in the areas I needed, so I left, rather abruptly.

I then joined Retriever in a matter of days in a very coincidental mix of right timing and chemistry with Retriever management; we just hit it off in a major way. My official title is Nordic social media business manager, but, in reality, my role is everything and anything in between. I am firstly in charge of the social media tool called Pulse and the social media analytics surrounding it.

I travel around the Nordic countries since we have offices in Oslo, Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Stockholm, educating staff in departments such as sales, customer relations and analysis, while also educating clients and helping salespeople conduct social media presentations. I also lecture (more and more in the last few months) about the challenges facing many organizations trying to get value and analyze social media and social metrics. I also help upper management develop plans for the future, and I assist our engineers and product developers in what we can and should be doing. It is an amazing job at the best company I have ever worked for.

What differs Retriever from other media monitoring companies in Scandinavia?

I am the first one to acknowledge that the industry of social media tools is problematic. We deliver great potential that is rarely used anywhere close to a satisfactory level. Partly because no company has been able to assist clients using their tools really effectively but also because the client base has been slow to educate themselves and find the resources to understand the value in social media. However, while working at Retriever, I have undoubtedly changed how we work with clients to not only store data, but to alter the way that we think about that data. And most importantly, at least for me, how the clients use the data, analyze and interact effectively.

There really isn’t a lot that separates most of the top companies when it comes to the raw data itself. Most of the firms around the world have reasonably similar and good data coverage. However, when it comes down to enhancing the data via language filters, filtering down the data to relevant and usable metrics and then doing something with the collected and segmented data, there are huge differences.

And in this regard, Retriever is different because we have really talented people and a lot of them, a team of 160+ individuals with great educations and experiences in areas such as journalism and statistics, PR and marketing and business, which really analyze and dig into the data without preconceptions and without making outrageous statements based on a gut feeling or insufficient data. I know that might sound like “big talk” and a rather harsh critique of the social media industry as a whole. But some of the tool providers have been very “wild west” dealing in outrageous statements when it comes to things such as reach, potential reach and success rates. A lot of the metrics have been hugely overstated, and that is me being really nice and conservative.

That is also why I am trying to raise the level of communication Retriever has with all clients and truly try to understand their needs, instead of giving them a tool that they are not able to use properly or create enough value out of. In this industry, I would say that a very high percentage of clients don’t know how to use the data or the tools at a proficient level. I both want to change that and feel we have to make these organizations both understand the data, and learn how to use the analysis and insight we can provide at a more useful level. To create real value. I would also say that is exactly Retriever’s biggest advantage over other companies, which is trying to really help clients understand the data, not just collect it for them.

You have recently added Facebook Topic Data; in what way is that important for your customers?

If you want to tell clients what they have been missing out on so far, as well as being completely honest, you could argue that other forms of media monitoring is almost futile without adding Facebook Topic Data! Because Facebook not only has the most amount of users, but also the broadest demographics of users. Previously, all this information was unavailable, so we had to make do with what was available. But now 100% of the Facebook data is, except for the private messages, which will remain completely private.

At Retriever we can now find out what things people talk about in conjunction with other things, and filter on behaviors, such as what people are going to do. This kind of data can really get into that long awaited “big data” phrase everyone throws around and we can cross reference that with all the other data we have and provide. It is not that the other data we provide is pointless, it is just that Facebook Topic Data elevates everything so we can make predications even on other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. We will be able to analyze behaviors, patterns in communication and really understand the social media-shpere.

Another good thing is that it is anonymous; Facebook protects people’s names and makes it impossible to find out who the person behind the information is. But the value is in the demographics and the relationships we see, which gives us a great perspective. This information shouldn’t only interest marketers, but everyone.

I do have to say that other platforms we monitor and analyze, such as Twitter and Instagram, do give us a good perspective, but the demographics are limited. For example, Instagram users are mostly women, while Twitter in Nordic countries is geared mostly for politics, especially as of late. Facebook, on the other hand, has a more representative demographic, and is able to provide us with outstanding data, which is unparalleled. Based on that information, we can create behavior sets that are completely new, and can give that information to marketers, PR agencies and advertising agencies as wells as communication teams, to let them know if their campaign and advertisement worked, if they reached the targeted group, and if how they bought media was successful.

Which social platform do you see having the most potential in the future?

I believe that really depends on the purpose. For example, although Facebook has the best demographics and the most data available, it may or may not be the best or most accurate source to predict US elections. It is hard to say for any one given event or field and we have to let the data speak for itself. We still need other platforms and to look at other channels as a comparison to Facebook. For instance, political candidates change their message, the way it’s designed and delivered, to the person they want to target on the different social platforms. Does that change the data? It might. I have seen this happen when looking at data surrounding music competitions such as Idol and the Swedish Melodifestivalen.

Snapchat is a tool that still is in its infancy but has enormous potential. The problem is monitoring it. There are platforms that have enormous potential for companies but their data is not very attractive to monitor. That is a real challenge for us.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

Twitter has amazing quality data, but they refuse to release very detailed information, which they already have. Another platform I would be really excited about being more open is LinkedIn. That data would be invaluable because it is the #1 professional platform, which would be a big help in learning to understand that segment of the public. From an employer branding perspective and recruitment it would be priceless and such a great source of rich data.

There are some current discussions about the lack of measuring reach and engagement properly. Do you have any ideas on how this can be improved?

I really want the industry to be a lot more aligned, and not to be a Wild West with outrageous statements with little to no basis in reality. I want to take a stand to create a standard within the industry in terms of such things as reach, potential reach, interactions and all the other debatable metrics.This will create trust and understanding among our clients.

So many clients tell me that social media monitoring companies approach them and talk about “six million people having seen or could have been reached by a certain message” and then fail to explain what it even means. When we check the data we see that one tenth of that number would be more appropriate. The client then asks me: “how can the numbers differ so much?”

Engagement rates are often company/product branded and far from universal, used without any standards, and often without any statistical understanding, and that needs to stop. As an industry, we need to provide services that are not counterintuitive, and offer products that are not based on error or by knowing that the client does not understand and is afraid to look bad by asking.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

This is truly region based; for example, in Sweden, podcasts have made a huge comeback. They were hip six to seven years ago, died down, and now are back and more popular than ever. They are even sponsored by some of the biggest companies like Ikea, which have used the podcasts to cater their message.

I would also be interested in automated picture analysis. For example, getting data on a photo in a political campaign that has Ikea’s brand in the photo; if that would be tagged, that would be a big help.

And the Holy Grail would be sentiment analysis that actually works. In my opinion, on the data automatically analyzed today without any manual filtering, I have not seen any tool that is correct more than 65% of the time. This means that we can’t be totally honest integrating such a service into our system, because it would be too problematic. Although larger volumes of data would paint a broad picture, most clients don’t get such large volumes of interactions because the most common analysis is done over a month or a couple of months. I have a feeling we will see a lot of progress in this field over the coming couple of years.

How do you think that the media monitoring business will change in the next 5-10 years?

Tools will still be a necessity but most companies will only use them for customer service, marketing and crisis management. I think the future is in analysis where the data enters through a tool but the insight comes through a report. In fact, I am sure of it. The companies not investing in analysis are making a huge mistake; Retriever is heavily invested in tools, but are even more heavily invested in analysis.

Most Scandinavian companies will keep on buying and selling tools, but will need to sell them while increasing analysis and creating real value. More and more companies are realizing that real value is created through insights and those insights usually come from the analysis of the data and not from live alerts in a tool. Furthermore, I actually think this paradigm shift may happen in as little as three to five years from now.

By Renata Ilitsky

Twingly Team Interviews: “Twingly’s client list says a lot about the quality of its products”

It has been a while since we published our last Twingly Team interview. Time to pick that little tradition of ours up again. This time we asked a couple of questions to Lorina Eldib, who recently joined Twingly as account manager. She explains what drives her motivation, which kind of blogs she reads and how she plans to incentivize her colleagues to give their best at work.

Hi! Please introduce yourself to the readers.
My name is Lorina, I am 27 years old, living in the Swedish town of Norrköping, about 160 km south of Stockholm, and I recently joined Twingly as account manager. After school I learned to become a florist, but rather quickly ended up working with sales instead of flowers. First within the event sector where I became project manager and was in charge of 12 sales people, then at a company offering survey and analytics services. I was the accout manager for about 100 clients, from small-sized companies to big corporations such as Volvo.

Lorina and her daughter

…and then you heard that Twingly had a vacancy?
Exactly. My old boss pointed me to the open position at Twingly, which sounded like it would suit me perfectly. He knows Twingly’s recently appointed CEO Peter Bláha so after I told him that I was interested, he let Peter know. Peter called me and asked me to send my CV. And here I am.

What was it that made you curious about Twingly?
Exciting clients from many different sectors. As an account manager it’s always fun to deal with renowned companies and brands, and it says a lot about the quality of the products Twingly offers.

If you could chose, do you prefer to work with a hundred different clients at once or rather with a smaller number?
I think for an account manger it’s desirable to work with a limited number of clients which you really can focus your attention on.

How familiar are you with the blogosphere?
I’m not a blogger myself but since I love to bake together with my daughter I read a couple of baking blogs to find inspiration and to understand whether the ingredients and tools I plan to buy are of high quality. I usually purchase these online which means that I can’t touch them. Bloggers help me to ensure to have a great baking experience and to create delicious pastries.

Which are your favourite baking blogs?
Passion 4 baking and sotasaker.com (unfortunately not available in English).

I’ve seen you carrying an iPhone around. What are your favourite apps that you really don’t want to be without anymore?
Runkeeper, Facebook, LinkedIn, SEB, Spotify, Twitter, Säljstöd (Salesforce).

How do you use that sales app?
Considering that I don’t have the world’s best memory it helps me to get immediate access to all the client information when I need it – even when working remotely.

Does that happen often?
Yeah quite often. I work from the train, from the bus, sometimes from home…

What’s your personal career goal at Twingly?
Like any passionate and ambitious sales person I want to be at the top of the internal sales ranking. Furthermore I’m looking forward working internationally as well as coaching new sales personnel.

Can you colleagues expect to be surprised with baked goods when reaching their targets?
There is a chance ; )

But if the Twingly team from now on will be supplied with cookies and cake on a regular basis, maybe you should introduce a weekly gym day as well…
Well, we have Peter as our personal trainer. He’s still pretty much into Rugby and tries to get us excited about the sport, too.

Twingly currently has more sales vacancies. Do you think people need to have a strong web background to be able to become great account managers at Twingly?
I don’t think so. Most of the things you can learn “on the job”. But of course it can be an advantage to already know the industry.

“Biggest reach isn’t always the best choice”

The blogosphere is maturing, but blogs are far from dead. That’s the message of Joakim Nyström from Swedish agency Bloggbyrån. He has created a model for identifying driving forces in blogs and characterised 12 different types of blogs. We had a chat with him.

Hi Joakim. Tell our readers a bit about you.
I’m Joakim Nyström, developer and designer at Bloggbyrån, a Sweden-based digital PR agency. I’m also involved in the strategic work. We help our customers in making decisions on how to engage with social media.

A developer and designer that also works with strategy…
Hehe yes I have quite a broad background. When we started Bloggbyrån me and my fellow colleagues jointly developed the strategies for our first clients, and somehow I kept working with that. But since I also have the coding skills it would be a shame not use them right?! 🙂

With the name Bloggbyrån you emphasize your focus on the blogosphere. How is this reflected in your day-to-day work?
Well, we help companies to spread buzz about issues or products and to raise opinions. We do that by building long term relationships with bloggers. Basically, we are friends with bloggers – much more than most companies. Which is why they come to us when they want to connect with bloggers.

Bloggers can be a challenge to handle, since they usually are very outspoken and not shy on publishing criticism. How do you make sure you keep your good relations with them while helping your clients to reach their (commercial) goals?
By respecting bloggers and educating our clients on how to interact with bloggers and what to avoid. We teach companies on ethical and social rules that are consensus in the blogosphere. We are a bit like a friendly host at a party who introduces people to each other.

Do you get the impression that in 2012, most companies feel confident when dealing with social media?
It varies, but usually there are at least a few people within each organisation that have the required skills and experience.

Some people claim that blogs are dying. What’s your take on that?
The blogosphere is maturing rather than dying. Early on we saw an explosion of blogs because we didn’t have the big social networks to connect and interact. Nowadays, bloggers are more focused and more professional. They might publish less blog posts but when they do, they work harder with that content and their relations. The link recommendations and quick thoughts are being published via Facebook and Twitter. All the ideas and input from those channels is then being transformed into blog posts, often in a well thought-through way. Less quantity but more quality. I think that’s a great trend.

Are blogs underestimated?
Maybe. The good thing with blogs is that you can focus more on long tail content. Blog posts are more permanent than the content posted on social networks, and companies are realising that.

You came up with a model that you call „blog compass“. What’s up with that?
One of the biggest challenges for companies is to figure out which blog is useful in which situation. I tried to develop an abstract model to identify driving forces in blogs. I found three main forces where one is usually more dominant than the other two: awareness/fame, connectivity, niche. Furthermore, I characterised 12 different blog types. You can have a look at the blog compass here.

Would the blog compass have looked differently a few years ago?
There was less connectivity I guess, but now the networks have exploded and blogs and bloggers are using different platforms to connect with each other and with the audience. In the past there was more focus on awareness and niche.

Where would you put the big US tech blogs or The Huffington Post?
I would put them somewhere in between awareness and niche. They are more like educating blogs, more like business media or newspapers. Information that we can benefit from but which perhaps is not always the most entertaining to read.

How do you use the model internally?
We use it as part of our argumentation towards the clients about why we are turning to a specific blog or why we use a specific strategy. Biggest reach isn’t always the best choice. Better is to find a niche, to build better relationships and to find a more engaged crowd. It’s recommended to look at the different types of capital that can be gained during the interaction with blogs: awareness, social capital and knowledge capital. The blog compass helps to understand that and to figure out which blogs to approach.

Are there companies that you wouldn’t recommend to reach out to the blogosphere?
Yes, companies that have dirt to hide should first clean that up. We usually tell our clients that we can direct attention but we can’t take responsibility about how people react.

Tomas Wennström talks about the future of Sweden Social Web Camp

If you live in Sweden and work in the Internet or media sectory chances are high that you have heard about Sweden Social Web Camp – SSWC – a popular yearly gathering of social media enthusiasts (of course supported by Twingly) on and island in the archipelago of Blekinge, a landscape in the south of Sweden. Next year, the unconference will celebrate its fifth birthday. We asked Tomas Wennström, one of the two founders, a couple of questions about the background of SSWC and future plans.

Hi Tomas. What Is SSWC?
SSWC is an unconference started by me and my partner Kristin Heinonen back in 2009. The initial idea was to gather readers and listeners of our blog and podcast What’s Next at a country house, have some beers and discuss web trends. So we blogged about that plan. The amount of people announcing in the comments they’d like to join rose quickly, which made us realize that we would need to find a bigger venue. We finally chose the small island Tjäro in the archipelago of Blekinge, a landscape in the south of Sweden. During the first SSWC in 2009, 280 people showed up. Mostly those we knew in one way or another, or their friends.

Considering it’s a yearly event I assume organizing SSWC is not your full time job?
No not at all. It’s a hobby and just for fun. Kristin and I work with it in our spare time, with the help of many volunteers. My day job is to run the Swedish web startup vackertväder.se together with my brother, and I have been doing some other web projects before.

Next year, SSWC will celebrate its 5th birthday. How has the event changed since its beginning?
We have been careful with growing SSWC to not destroy the original charme. But of course, with 450 attendees in 2012, it was close to twice the size as in 2009. Furthermore, social media itself has become mainstream. Four years ago, the SSWC crowd felt a bit misunderstood and there was a slight “We against the world” vibe. Now, social media is accepted in society and business, and many people work within the field and earn money with it. That change of the industry is naturally reflected in the topics discussed at SSWC. That also has led to an increased awareness about SSWC in the media and business world. But I hope that the event still has the same feel of familiarity for the participants as in the first year, and our main goal is still for everybody to have a great time.

What are the biggest challenges with organizing SSWC?
Mainly the logistics. Since Tjärö is an island everyone needs to be brought there with the ferry. And there is only a limited number of beds available. Many of the attendees sleep in tents, which is not everyone’s prefered choice of accommodation. But this year we were able to increase the number of beds with big boats that people could sleep on, and the tourism company owning the island told us that increasing the number of SSWC participants would be logistically possible. The question is of course if we want to do that, considering that we really like to keep the special feel and intimacy.

Do you have plans to use the SSWC brand in other way’s than for the yearly summer event?
We have been discussing a winter event in Stockholm, since many of the attendees live there. But we haven’t made any decisions yet. And since we run the whole thing in our spare time and just became parents, the amount of work we can invest is limited. But in this regards, the unconference concept is perfect, because lots of the content is taken care of by the participants. Thankfully, we have great help with the installation of the Wifi network as well – as you can imagine, that’s a very important aspect for that kind of conference (you can read more about SSWC Wifi logistics in this Swedish article)

So far, SSWC has been mainly directed at the local Swedish social media crowd. Will you keep it that way?
Of course even social web enthusiast from abroad are welcome, and we usually have some attendees from the other Nordic countries. But true, since most of our communication and the talks and discussions are in Swedish, coming here without knowledge of the Swedish language might limit the SSWC experience for some, although I think even English speaking participants will get a lot out of SSWC. If there is a clear need, we could definitely have more talks in English.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being the inventor of SSWC?
To meet all the interesting people that are coming and to be able to provide a platform, a meeting place for the participants which they can fill with content and their creativity.

Tell us about a special SSWC moment that you definitely won’t forget.
There are of course many, but one particular was this year’s burning of a sheep on the last evening of SSWC – of course not a real one, but one made of wood built by the attendees. I had this idea as an analogy to what they do at Burning Man festival in the US, and two days later we set a collectively constructed wooden sheep on fire and sent it to the sea. This showed how creative people at SSWC are.

Burning a wooden sheep (photo by Tobias Bjorkgren)

Tickets usually sell out very quickly. What’s your advice to people who really want to attend?
Sign up for our email newsletter which notifies you when the tickets are released. And then it’s recommended to have your credit card in one hand and your mouse in the other, especially if you want to book housing. The beds are usually sold out in 3-4 minutes.

Do you think there will be a SSWC in 2020?
It’s not unlikely. We have by “accident” started an event that people love. So even if Kristin and I for some reason wouldn’t be able to organize it anymore, possibly somebody else would take over and continue. I’m not sure though if that name will remain forever. In 2020, “social web” will by then be a pretty old expression.

Interview with Sofia Mirjamsdotter about social media, #prataomdet and more

Every day millions of tweets discuss all kind of topics. But some aspects of people’s personal lives are still less visible in the public online debate. Sofia Mirjamsdotter is a well known Swedish journalist and blogger who helped to make people on Twitter talk about what they didn’t dare to talk about before: negative sexual experiences when boundaries were violated. We had a chat with Sofia.

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself, what your background is and what you do for a living?
I am a journalist, 40 years old and a mother of three. I’m also a web nerd who discovered the Internet in the mid 90s, when I started to hang out on forums and discussion boards. I began to blog in 2005. Three years later I launched a blog with the main focus on media, and that one later got an award. Right after that I quit my job and decided to make a living from public speaking and educating journalists, but also administrative authorities on Internet and social media. Today my income comes from both speaking and writing.

Photo by Pelle Sten (CC BY 2.0)

On your blog you mention that people sometimes get very angry at you. Why is that? Are you actively looking for trouble?
I try to create change and I use the tools that I have. I like to write, so I choose to publish my thoughts and opinions if I find them important and if I believe that I can make a difference. My goal is not to provoke, but to engage others on issues and to make them think about them.

What are the most discussed topics in the Swedish blogosphere and Twitter sphere?
Difficult question. I guess people discuss what’s on the news agenda, mostly. Politics, culture, sports, media and things like that. And there is also a huge group of teenagers who discuss fashion and stuff that doesn’t really interest me.

Would you say that bloggers in Sweden get well along and that they know how to debate controversial topics without starting to fight or to get offensive?
Yes! In general, absolutely! There is a feeling of unity and being one community, even across groups with different views on politics and society. Naturally you have permanent conflicts, and especially among the younger ones those can get very intense and hard to look at sometimes. But in the political blogosphere it is not uncommon that bloggers from different parties or from different sides of the political spectrum together stand up for important causes, like the freedom of the Internet or the fight against xenophobia and racism.

Last year you were chosen as the winner of a big Swedish journalism award together with Johanna Koljonen for the campaign #prataomdet. Can you tell us more about the background?
It started with a regular Twitter conversation. Johanna sparked a debate on Twitter about bad sexual experiences from when one was younger and which in retrospect might be considered an assault. During the conversation it became clear that many people find it hard to speak about that in public. But me and some others started to publish our experiences and all of a sudden the Swedish Twitter sphere exploded with personal accounts on negative sexual experiences and situations when boundaries were violated. All tweets included the hashtag #prataomdet (talk about it). The result was a website, a book, several appearances on tv and radio, lectures and even a stage play as well as public hearings where sex was discussed in public. Recently I met a guy who didn’t participate in #prataomdet but who had heard about it and who suddenly remembered an incident when he had sex with a girl who didn’t want to but didn’t protest enough. He called her several years later to apologize. That was great to hear!

Do you think it was pure luck that this topic became big after the initial Twitter conversation, or is it something that you think one could repeat with any other engaging topic if one pulls the right triggers?
I think it was luck. There was no plan to make this become a huge hype. Even though there might be some learnings here how to start a viral campaign on Twitter I think in the end it depends on people’s individual engagement, and that’s hard to predict. In this special case people simply had a big need to talk about that topic. The media attention we got afterwards was probably in part due to the fact that #prataomdet was the first “initiative” of its kind.

Do you think #prataomdet will have a permanent impact on how sensitive or tabooed topics are being discussed online?
Maybe. There were follow-ups like for example #homoriot where homesexual users talked about their experiences and the attacks they are confronted with. So maybe the answer is “yes”.

You said in the beginning that you are a web nerd. What will happen next in the digital world?
I can’t really answer that because I’m bad at predicting and I prefer to live in the here and now. The evolution of the digital world is progressing at such a fast pace – one year before Twitter nobody could imagine Twitter. So I guess what happens in the future is something we hardly are able to predict today.

“My goal in life is to become free”

He is a specialized communication consultant, public speaker, a well-known blogger and a startup entrepreneur. For Johan Ronnestam, this variety of projects is what brings him pleasure, and what eventually enables him to become free. Let’s hear more on his philosophy and ways of achieving his goals.

Hi Johan. Is it ok to say that you have a split work personality?
Haha well if you want to. It’s true that I have a big problem telling people what it is that I do, since I’m dealing with a variety of very different projects simultaneously. That was one of the reasons why I started my blog… so I could simply tell people to go there and read about me, instead of explaining everything.

So let’s say we don’t want to read your blog right now. How would you introduce yourself?
Well, ok. I have been working with the Internet in one or another way since 1993, and I had the privilege to be able to do projects for some of the world’s biggest brands, both regarding advertising and communication but also in the field of business development and online/offline strategies. I tend to say that I do three things: I consult for different businesses, I do public speaking gigs and I am an entrepreneur, being involved in a couple of startups, one of them JAJDO, which develops iPad apps for kids.

How do clients who want you for consulting find you?
Primarily through word of mouth. After they have heard about me through somebody else, they usually go on the web and google me, and then they find my blog and can get to know me a bit better before getting in touch with me.

Considering your different activities one has to wonder if you simply stumbled into this situation working simultaneously in very different fields or if that was a deliberate decision of yours?
It was totally deliberate. When I started to blog some people told me that I need more focus. But I replied to them that I don’t do this to make business, I just try to shape my life so I have fun. And I have fun doing lots of things.

You don’t find it hard to prioritize all the time? Like when a client wants your help but you are preparing an important speech or working with your startup?
When I take assignments I am very clear with communicating that the client needs to follow my agenda.

That sounds as if you managed to build up quite a reputation. What’s your secret?
I would say it’s a mix of things. I got the chance to work with Nike Football in Europe in the 90s as well as with some other big global brands, which helped me to get noticed and increase my network. Also, my blog which I launched in 2007 has helped me to show people what I am good at. For example, I am a passionate designer, but telling somebody might not be convincing enough. Instead, I can show my creations. Also, my speaking gigs have helped me to spread the word. And when blogging, I try to publish my own thoughts, ideas and theories, not only linking to others. That’s important I think because it enables you to become and authority in your area of expertise.

What’s your thoughts on the state of social media?
Everything is maturing. And it hasn’t really happened so much during the past two years, at least nothing that really “WOWs” me. ; )

You are hoping for bigger changes?
It would make things a bit more exciting again. It was different in 2007 when all those new sites and services became big, like Facebook and Twitter. Now there are still new services, but often they do the same thing as the past ones. I also notice an increasing fragmentation. Everybody is using different services. You could say that social media is going through the same process as traditional media did – one newspaper was replaced by 1000 digital services, now 1000 big digital services are replaced by 10.000 small services. A couple of big things become many small things. The problem with fragmentation is that even the potential audience is fragmented. User driven content relies on people feeling that someone else is listening or reading. If people lack this feeling they stop publishing. Two years ago you had 50 great blogs in Sweden that were updated daily. Now that number has shrunk to 5. That means less linking and less engagement for everyone blogging in Sweden. But lets see how everything will change again with the next radical evolution that is already in sight: mobile.

…which is where you are heading with your own startup JAJDO.
Exactly. We are three guys running JAJDO, developing iPad apps for children. My co-founder Andreas and I kickstarted tons of smaller initiatives in the past and one day we decided to dedicate our time to a “real” startup. The big companies had overlooked this part of the gaming market which made it easier to build apps with only a very small team. We called our friend Jonas and went ahead. Today we invest about 3 days a week into JAJDO. It’s one brand and one engine in the background but we want to publish different apps. Of course we made a lot of beginner’s mistakes. One app we are going to launch is delayed 20 weeks. But we are not really under pressure since we are bootstrapping, thanks to our consulting jobs.

What’s your goal with being an entrepreneur?
If you are running a digital company with money from your own pocket, you are free to do what you want. You can go and surf while the company is running without you for a while. My goal in life is to become free (I blogged about that once). Another aspect is that by developing apps for children you can have a good conscious about what you’re doing, even if it would make you rich. We have more than 100.000 app downloads. I know that there are 70.000 or 80.000 children that got happy while playing with JAJDO. That’s a great feeling and something to be proud of. I hope we come to the point that we will be able to live off the app completely.

How much are your own kids involved in testing?
A lot. Often when we get close to launching the app they are already bored by it because they have been using it for such a long time, so I need to find new kids then to test it.

“Journalism and the knowledge of journalists is too important to be left to stagnation”

Emanuel Karlsten is a well-connected Swedish journalists and social media enthusiast. He thinks that the best way of developing new working concepts and business models in the age of social media is through experiments. According to him, the number of experiments is far lower than what it should be. With Ajour, he and a couple of other personalities from the Swedish web sphere are doing their part to help online journalism evolve. We had a chat with Emanuel.

Hi Emanuel. What have you done to become a well connected, well known figure in the Swedish blogosphere?
I am really not sure. It all started with being hired by a small newspaper called Dagen. I simply tried to be a good web editor. I started reading what people were writing on how to use social media, and follow those suggestions. During that time actively engaging in social media was considered being both brave and radical – most people just wrote about it. So my news site got a lot of attention and recognition, which meant that I also got quite a boost. I realized how easily things could be done without great budgets, if you just try. I collected as much knowledge as possible from every person I understood knew more than I. I tried to understand how they thought, read more, learned more and connected more. It has never been a strategy, it has just been me trying to do my job as good as possible.

Photo taken by Martin Ridne

You work as a journalist but you are also doing social media consulting for clients. How do you make sure there won’t be conflicts of interest?
I have been in conflict of interests. Sometimes I want to write about my clients, but if it is too sensitive I just don’t. But mainly my work as a consultant is with other media houses, so I am not very deeply affected.

How does a usual work week look for you?
Really there is no usual week. It depends on what clients I have and what projects they put me up to. But I invest a lot of time on roaming the web, looking for new things. When I don’t have a big client I work with the news project I created with some others, and I usually have about one or to lectures or trainings for journalists a week. I also spend every other Sunday writing my column for the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, and am a regular on a few radio shows.

What do you like about working with many different things at the same time?
I am a restless soul, so I am really not left with an option. But what pushes me the most is to see change. Journalism and the knowledge of journalists is too important to be left to stagnation and today there is almost no innovation in our business. It is frustrating and that is pretty much the reason I do what I do. I could not stay at a regular job – it moves to slow. I could not just be out educating and lecturing either – I would miss writing too much. And the way you challenge media is not just by talking, you have to show it somehow – so me and five others created an experimental new media site, Ajour.

Tell us a bit more about the project.
I think ultimately all of the co-founders have different goals. Some just want a platform where we can share great stories. For me it is about trying out new ideas. The whole concept of Ajour is to adapt to a social media world where the sender of a message is becoming increasingly important. So we had the idea on putting together a few of the most influential social media people in Sweden to create a newsblog/newssite where the WHO is the main way of drawing attention, not the WHAT. People trust that what we write is interesting, and thereby we could establish a stage which we then could use to give voice to people and stories that haven’t been heard yet but should be heard. So Ajour is about empowering citizens, challenging and encouraging them to pick up the pen, videocamera or whatever and do journalism together with us. But really, we do not know where it will end, we just wanted to experiment with this. Because it needs to be done, since so few others are doing it.

What importance does blogging have in your daily work?
People tend to think that blogs’ relevance has diminished and that it is now microblogging that is hot. That might be true in the sense that it is newer, but not in the way that it is impacting people. Especially in Sweden blogging has really changed the media landscape. Just look at the way young girls consume media today. They went from magazines to mainly blogs. Not just reading, but also writing. It is the big flagship in social media and is so for me as well.

How do blogs and Twitter changed journalism? Can a journalist still do excellent work without at least spending some time with social media?
Sure, a journalist can do a great and excellent work without social media. And a journalist can still do a great and excellent work without using a phone. But really – none of it makes any sense. Why would we not use a phone to reach people in a faster way? And why would we not use social media to connect to people? The biggest issue with social media and journalism is the gigantic gap of knowledge on how to actually benefit from it. There are so many ways social media could make the journalist’s job more effective. Those who have already understood this have experienced great success. It actually just means that we can do the same old work better, faster and more effective.

What are the challenge of social media disrupting journalism?
The challenge is how to develop a solid business model. I hate the word “find” because it suggests that it will just be there for you to pick up. Media has been great in trying to develop journalism online, but when it comes to business models it just got stuck. The problem lies not in that the model necessarily is wrong, it is just that we don’t get the same revenue on advertising online as we do on print. And that might not work, but we (media houses internationally) never really tried! The ones who did try, Facebook and Google, actually succeeded. But we have somehow bought our own lie on “it will not work” instead of trying to innovate. That is really frustrating to me. Another challenge is that while this is happening regular people – “non journalists” – are doing the journalists’ jobs. Often better. Because they are using the relevant tools and they are doing it transparent and many times with more confidence than a traditional journalist. This will probably become a bigger challenge for every day that passes.

“I call blogs the ‘diamonds’ of social media”

We continue our series of interviews with opinion leaders, influencers and well-connected bloggers and social media personalities from Twingly’s home country Sweden. For today’s interview we had a chat and coffee with Brit Stakston, media strategist at a Stockholm-based communication agency. Brit believes in the web enabling real democracy but sees a lot of challenges on that journey.

Hi Brit. You are media strategist at the Stockholm-based communications agency JMW. Today that means lots of social media, right?
JMW provides most of the services that a typical communication agency offers to its clients, but our particular focus early on was social media – which of course should be the core discipline for every communication agency today. Without bragging I think we were one of the first agencies here in Sweden that understood the massive change that social media will bring to business and society.

Photo taken by Lena Dahlström

What’s your personal take on the current state of social media?
We seem to have reached a phase where we have to deal with some critical issues that evolve as social media is entering every part of our (digital) live. One thing is the gap between people who know how to communicate on the web, which gives them a lot of power, and those who don’t. The insights of how analogue and digital values shape society need to be discussed.

Do you think social media has always reached its full potential in changing the society?
Not at all. For me it’s not a huge change that i.e. you and I gained influence and power just because we started using Twitter early. First when everybody knows how those tools can enable him/her to communicate and to get his/her voice heard, social media really will be able to make a difference. Then we can start building. That’s one of my missions today, to help people realize that the ability to learn how to engage on the digital side of life is as important as to be able to read. We all know what that being able to read meant for individuals and for society. Individuals as well as leaders of any organisation need to understand that this is the fact with digitalization as well.

Twitter is gaining momentum in Sweden and journalists are increasingly quoting tweets. How does that affect the importance of blogs?
I call blogs the “diamonds of social media”. It is a brilliant database that completes your digital footprint with your personal experiences, know-how and ideas. Very important: It will be available and searchable while our conversations on Twitter are lost after a week or so. Unfortunately, the journalist’s radar now has changed focus to Twitter, which is shown by the the fact that they don’t quote blogs anymore. But they definitely read blogs. When they write articles, blogs are often the source or did at least inspire some of the facts and thoughts presented. So as a communication advisor I recommend my clients not to ignore blogs just because they aren’t mentioned that often in mass media anymore. They are a hidden power to influence and allow for long term visibility.

So you don’t doubt the influence of blogs on the public debate?
Definitely not. A blog is a great platform if you want to influence and discuss issues in public or if you want to question politicians around specific topics. In Sweden we have lots of examples of how the blogosphere really has been pushing things forward and how it has put pressure on decision makers. The strength of a blog is that everybody has their own publishing platform, almost at no costs. You can react when people react on issues you are engaged in. To watch a discussion evolving around a topic that you have invested a lot of time into on your blog is a great feeling. Within moments you can provide a perspective by writing a short comment and with internal links highlight your own line of thinking here.

Would you say that in the age of social media citizens have more power than in the old days?
Definitely. The digital tools we have today are developed from exactly that fact, how we as human beings want to share experiences, values, expressions with each other and now withoug being framed to time and place. We want to change things! Unlike demonstrations or other physical gatherings, you don’t have to wait for somebody to grant you space to express your opinion. And you should never underestimate two things: First of all that your passion to change things is inspiring for others and second that the fact of something being public is really pressuring, much more than a private letter I send to a decision maker. A single blog post with relevant questions might be enough, especially if the person addressed feels that more reactions would follow if he/she doesn’t react. So overall, if you want to create public awareness for a particular topic and you don’t involve a blog in your communication, you miss out on a great opportunity, and you definitely tend to be lost on the journalist’s radar.

In the beginning you already mentioned the gap between those who know how to use the communication tools and those who don’t. Can you elaborate on that concern?
I am simply worried that the group of people who engage in social media and has the skills to become influential online is the one who exclusively sets the agenda. We have seen many examples like that the last year. Take the Kony 2012 campaign as one example: Its producers definitely knew how to put together a professional message which spread virally through the web. How many (more trustworthy) organisations haven’t worked extremely hard for years to raise awareness about issues concerning children´s rights and children soldiers, but haven’t even gotten a small amount of the attention Kony 2012 achieved?! I am scared of a world where the issues of the ones who understand communication are being considered the important ones. This is the reason why I think everybody should know how to participate on social media. Why? Because there will always be stories that need to be told and that won’t be on the agenda of individuals. Individual initiatives tend to be short term-based and have a weakness in the fact that they are carried by one person only, whereas organizations tend to be structured in a democratic manner and much more long term.

Do you think the web can create real democracy where everybody has the same power?
Yes, even if it sounds very idealistic. I am an extreme cyber optimist in that sense. But at the same time we need to realize that it is the human nature to group ourselves and to create hierarchies. We need to see that factors like power and money still are strong driving forces. The problem is when we keep on saying that all this does not happen in communities on the web while the truth is that it is happening on the web. So we constantly need to fight that, as well as making sure that as many politicians, CEOs and other decision makers are participating and getting involved in the dialogue. That they are thrilled over digital tools that enable them to keep in contact with their target groups on a daily basis, whether they are citizens, voters or customers.

What will you think in 10 years about what you said in this interview?
I hope that I don’t have to be nostalgic about these times!

You can follow Brit on Twitter or via her blog.

Other interviews in this series:

Micco Grönholm
Joakim Jardenberg 

“For tech startups and innovation, Stockholm is one of Europe’s hottest places”

We continue our series of interviews with opinion leaders, influencers and well-connected bloggers and social media personalities from our home country Sweden. This time we had a chat with a guy who hardly needs an introduction to anybody following the local blogosphere and twittersphere: Joakim Jardenberg (aka “Jocke”).  He set up the first server for Sweden’s formerly biggest media site back in 1994, is a so called “short sleeper” and currently trains CEOs of leading companies to get ready for the digital age.  Read on to get to know him more.

Hi Jocke. Who are you?
I’m a senior advisor in most things related to Internet and media and I’ve been working in this field since 1994 when I set up the first server for Aftonbladet.se, Sweden’s biggest media site until Facebook appeared. Back then the newspaper published news on text TV, and I created a solution to translate that content into HTML. For a short while Aftonbladet.se was the only real news site in the world having updated real time news content.

And today?
Currently I work with 5 CEOs of Sweden’s top 25 largest corperations to help them get ready for the digital age. They call me a “CEO whisperer”. The project involves everything from big strategy weekends to them calling me from the toilet asking questions about social media.

That sounds like a rather unusual project…
It is. I once held a presentation at a conference in Denmark and one of the CEOs was there. We hooked up and started to work on a deal that is now running in its third year. The other 4 CEOs are part of his network, which I could tap into. That’s how everything started.

Is that a full time job?
It could be, but I try to spend not more than 40 or 50 percent of my time for this project. My goal is to make myself unnecessary for them.

But then you are unemployed?
Not really. I have some other projects going on with big Swedish corporations. I also work a lot with the Swedish Foreign Ministry and as a business angel – I have invested into 11 tech startups. Furthermore I do some lecturing, public speaking and moderation.

That sounds as if you don’t have the time to sleep a lot…
That’s true. Fortunately, I belong to the one percent of people that are so called “short sleepers”. I sleep approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours a night, and I have been doing that since I was 20.

Many people are probably jealous of the capability.
It’s indeed an amazing feature – not a bug. One can easily handle the work load of two regular work days in one day and still take care of the family, social life and hobbies.

Could that advantage be the reason for why most people in the inner social media circles of Sweden know you?
Absolutely, it has nothing to do with intelligence or creativity, it’s just a lot of working hours ; )

Good to know : ) But seriously, how did you achieve that kind of prominence on the Swedish web?
I think a big part of it is that I try to live by my own motto: to be honest and do good shit. I hope I have been doing that. I want to be around for people, help them out without sending a bill afterwards, answer questions, try to take part in the public debate in a very open and straight-forward way. I would say I have spend a lot of hours trying to support and advocate my peers, listening to them, learning from them, and pushing things forward for them. That might be an explanation for my visibility in that specific niche.

When did you launch your own blog?
I think it was as early as it was possible to do that. If I remember correctly, I ran one of the early versions of WordPress, maybe in 2005 or 2006.

So you were one of the first in Sweden to active on social media?
Yes but I wasn’t that active in the very distinctive blogosphere in the beginning. Not living in Stockholm and not being in the Stockholm social context made it harder to catch the train. I was more looking outwards, out of Sweden.

What’s the status of the Swedish blogosphere in 2012?
For the blog as a social culture phenomenon I think it has peaked because we don’t have the obvious clusters anymore. Many Swedish hubs that connected the blogosphere and differentiated it from traditional publishing and all other media haven’t that big of an impact anymore. There are still political bloggers, tech bloggers, fashion bloggers and so forth. But it’s not that much of a closed community anymore, it’s part of all the other social media and traditional media.

What reputation do bloggers have in Sweden today?
Since the Swedish fashion blog scene is pretty big it has made an impression in the minds of the ordinary Swedes. When they hear the word “blog” they might think of a teenage girl taking photos of herself and writing about her daily outfit. That’s something we have to fight back on.

Would you say that social media in Sweden has an impact on politics and society?
Social Media definitely has an impact on the agenda of civil society. “Bloggbävning” (“blogquake”) is the Swedish word for it, when a topic explodes and is being picked up by the mainstream. Although that covers not only blogs but social media in general, where blogs are only a part of.

How much importance has Twitter for social media in Sweden?
It’s still a niche phenomenon. In some groups it has a lot of users, like among politicians or people working in technology, public relations and marketing. But it hasn’t found its way into my mother’s life. It lags behind the development in the states. In Sweden Twitter simply didn’t have the “Oprah effect”.

That means, an A-celebrity embracing Twitter in a big way could move it into the mainstream even in Sweden?
Yeah, and that might eventually happen. We also have to have respect for the ability and/or resistance of people to manage multiple platforms. Facebook is huge in Sweden in what I would call the Oprah target group. It might not be as easy today as it was in the US when Twitter exploded. But I think we see something happening with the push from younger people, they are embracing Twitter more and more.

Since you are also a tech investor you probably have thoughts about the current wave of Sweden-based startups making headlines on a global scale…
Of course. We had Skype, Rebtel and a few more disruptive companies from Sweden. Now we see the “Björn Borg effect”. You had the shining stars who showed the community that it’s possible to do what Spotify or Skype did in their respective markets. That motivates other entrepreneurs, investors and founders. It’s cyclic and now we are in a very upbeat spiral of tech innovation. Stockholm is definitely one of the hottest places in Europe when it comes to tech startups and web innovation. Daniel Ek is our hero!

Speaking about tech innovation: What are the 3 most exciting tech trends right now?
To start with the most obvious: location. It’s maturing but it hasn’t found its way into the mainstream audience yet. Nevertheless, it will go there, since there are so many benefits for location being tightly integrated into any service.

Another trend I expect to become huge is frictionless sharing, which means, that we don’t have to manually update everything we do and want to share anymore. It’s kind of a mesh between the Internet of things and the Internet of people. I love my twittering scale for instance. Of course, good and understandable privacy settings are a requirement.

Last but not least, my guess is that tactile techniques will become hot. We have learned to interact with our devices by touching or moving them, but it’s always about us interacting with the device. I want o see more devices that interact back to us. It’s pretty abstract but as devices come into every part of our life it becomes necessary for them to have more ways to communicate with us.