Interview with Jan Jasper Kosok of “It’s ridiculous not to link to websites outside of your own”

Der Freitag is a weekly newspaper from Germany which has been focusing a lot on connecting their print to their online product (the print edition actually was nominated as one of the best designed newspapers in the world) and on making the readership part of it, promoting its community and blog network more prominently than most other newspaper websites we have seen. And they are using Twingly. We spoke with Jan Jasper Kosok who is in charge of the paper’s online presence about the newspaper’s decision to integrate user generated content, abut the German blogosphere and the importance of social web channels as traffic sources.

Hi Jan. You are in charge of Der Freitag’s website and also for the community.  How did you get into that role?
In 2007 me and a friend ran a blog about Berlin pop culture. One day I was contacted by Der Freitag and they asked me if i could imagine working for them. At that time I wasn’t really ready but we stayed in touch and in April 2009 I joined them.

So it was your blog that created this career opportunity?
Yes. They wanted to hire somebody with a blogger background, who understood the dynamics of the blogosphere and social media.

How do you distribute your time between the two roles – working with the community and with the website in general?
The community part (moderation, commenting, projects involving users) takes definitely less time than working with the day-to-day-tasks as well as with the overall website strategy, especially since we are creating the concept for a relaunch for 2011.

You might be the German newspaper which is focusing the most on blogs and user generated content. How come?
The groundwork for this was laid before I joined. But once the basic mind set was created, the implementation went step-by-step, and today the combination of online and offline and the integration of the readership are part of Der Freitag’s philosophy. Readers like to be able to identify themselves with the product, and they want to have the possibilities to get in touch with it, even contribute to it. About 30 percent of the content consumed on is generated by users. Besides our own editorial content and the articles we are syndicating from The Guardian the community has become our third main pillar.

What about the combination of online and offline?
We are actually publishing some of our community content in our weekly newspaper. Our goal is to create a feeling for the people who buy the newspaper that they are part of it, and part of the creation. So far it seems to work: Our readers have a closer emotional connection to us than what readers usually have to other newspapers. For a small-sized company like ours that is a powerfull concept. For the future our main challenge will be to grow the community and at the same time maintain the familiar atmosphere.

What are your thoughts regarding the current state of the German blogosphere?
In my opinion the (few) leading blogs in Germany have become more professional. Some people say the blogosphere is getting smaller and less active. On the other hand I today see a lot of blogs covering the topics that we wrote about in our blog back in 2007 – at that time we were pretty much alone in our niche. So I think your own thoughts about the blogosphere always depend on your personal areas of interests. Different people will tell you different things about where the blogosphere stands in 2010. However, citizen journalism in Germany is still in its early beginnings. I’m convinced that we’ll see a lot happening in the future.

You link a lot to external blogs…
Yes, we pay a lot of attention to the blogosphere and try to connect to external blogs. We also think it is important to not only link to our own articles via our Twitter account but to whatever content the editorial team at Der Freitag thinks is worth reading. It’s kind of ridiculous not to post a link to a good article or important information just because it has been published elsewhere.

When you link out a lot, you probably also get many incoming links from blogs (which you track with Twingly)? Yes that’s true. And since we are still fairly small we really feel the effects of when bigger blogs are linking to our articles. We are using the Twingly widget to show incoming links for everybody.

If you look at the incoming traffic from blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Where do you get the most visitors from?
That’s difficult to measure, because the heavily used URL shorteners make it difficult to track the exact source. But my impression is that Facebook is growing more rapidly than Twitter and is sending increasingly readers to us. On the other hand, in my personal opinion Facebook has become the place very everybody is, but Twitter has successfully gathered opinion leaders, other bloggers, journalist and media profiles which actively are distributing links.

What’s your vision for for the next years?
We see our site as permanent work in progress. We want to deliver modern cross medial journalism and to be open for new trends, approaches and experiments. We hope to be able to establish ourselves in that niche.

Swedish retailer Hemtex embraces the blogosphere with Twingly

In our article from a few days ago about how a lot of our Twingly partners were voted into Internetworld’s top 100 ranking of Sweden’s best websites 2010 we explained how this year’s winner Halens is using the Twingly Blogstream widget to highlight what bloggers are saying about the products sold on its website (we also explained the integration in detail a few months ago).

Now another leading retailer from Sweden is implementing such as solution to encourage web users to blog feedback and opinions in regards to furnishings and textiles offered on its web-shop: Hemtex!

What Hemtex has done is straight forward: On each item profile in their store you find the tabs “Start” with the main order information about a product, “Info” with some specific details and “Bloggat” which is Swedish and means “blogged”. By clicking on that tab users are welcomed by the Twingly widget linking to blogs that had something to say about the specific item.

So while the integration of Twingly is great for Hemtex to increase awareness and engagement within the Swedish blogosphere, it will help online shoppers to evaluate whether a specific product is worth buying or not by having access to reviews and comments from blogs.

If you want to see the Twingly integration in action you can for instance go to this page.

We say welcome Hemtex, we are happy to have you with us and to see more and more leading e-commerce services opening up to the social web!

CNN study shows: Services like Twingly increase effectiveness of ads

Between June and August this year, CNN has conducted a global study labeled “Power Of News And Recommendation” (POWNAR) based on an online survey with 2.300 respondents. The goal was the analyze the impact of shared news on the social web from an advertising perspective. And the results are pretty interesting!

According to the study, brands benefit a lot from advertising in context of content that is being shared through social media channels. Users who received news articles from their social web contacts were 19 % more likely to recommend brands that advertised on the source website, and 27 % more likely to favour that brand themselves.

Another result from the POWNAR study is that video pre-roll advertising has a particularly high effectiveness when shown around news content shared in social media compared to display banner advertising.

The results of this study are indicating that it is beneficial for advertisers to be present on websites that are being shared through social media, and hence that publishers are recommended to increase the sharability of their content, which subsequently will lead to higher ad effectiveness and more companies buying ads.

Of course, this proves us at Twingly right for providing newspapers and other media sites with our Twingly Blogstream widget, which shows incoming links from the blogosphere next to an article, and which at the same time links back to the bloggers. This gives everyone who runs a blog a huge incentive to share newspaper articles with their readership. By using Blogstream, content sites not only do increase the number of weekly bloglinks by on average 250 % within a few weeks, they – according to the POWNAR study – also increase the effectiveness of ads shown on their sites.

CNN did also look at what kind of content has the highest chance of getting shared on the social web: 65 % of content analyzed for the survey comprised of ongoing stories, 19 % were breaking news and (only) 16 % fell into the “quirky or funny” category. Furthermore, the study found that visually spectacular content, stories about science and technology as well as human interest stories and money-related content are working particularly good when looking at the number of shares online.

The POWNAR study also proves what is already common knowledge: A small percentage of all people online are accounting for the majority of articles shared. In this case 27 % of all sharers account for 87 % of all news stories. Platforms most frequently used for sharing content are social media networks and tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (43 % of all news shared), email (30 %), SMS (15%) and Instant Messaging (12 %).

So what’s the overall conclusion? Make your content as sharable as possible, because it will increase the effectiveness of your ad inventory and make your advertisers happy.

/Martin Weigert

(photo: stock.xchng)

6 different use cases for Twingly Channels

The past weeks we explained you how to start your own Twingly Channel and presented you with a list of 10 popular Channels you really shouldn’t miss. Now there might be one unanswered question left: In which situations do you benefit from using a Channel instead of tackling a problem or task in a different way? Today we give you 6 answers to that question!

1. Project collaboration
You are part of a project group, either at work, in school or university? You want to help your team to stay informed about the topics you are dealing with, and you even would like to encourage them to contribute with their sources and input so that you as a group can discuss and collaborate around the content relevant for the project? Start a Twingly Channel, subscribe to search terms and RSS feeds regarding your topic and invite your group members to join!

2. Easy link sharing and commenting
Maybe you are looking for a really easy solution to collect and share links with a group of people, for example friends, family, fellow students or people in your sports club? Twingly Channels works great for that. You can use it without subscribing to any feeds or search terms – if you are in the “incoming stories” view there is a form on top to add your link. Every link can be liked and commented.

3. Social Media monitoring
There are dozens of expensive Social Media monitoring tools out there. If you are working with communication or marketing you might want to focus on the most important sources for monitoring what is being said about your brand or products. Twingly Channels is the solution! Subscribe to all the search terms relevant for you and see what the blogosphere is saying, including all the articles and tweets that link to those pieces that mention your brand or product. And yes, of course it’s free.

4. News reader 2.0
We already have explained how you can use Twingly Channels as a “RSS reader 2.0”. If you think that RSS is too unsocial, if you want to be able to share your personal news reader with other people and if you enjoy to see feed items based on how many reactions in other blogs and on Twitter they got, not in chronological order without any intelligence behind, then Channels might be your news reader of choice. In case you mail us the OPML-file containing your subscriptions from another RSS client (like Google Reader) and the URL of your Twingly Channel, we load it up with all your feeds:

5. Aggregate your content
If you are an avid blogger, Social Media addict or if you work with communications/marketing, it’s likely that you publish content on more than one platform. Twingly Channels is a great way to aggregate everything you publish anywhere in one handy stream – and it’s showing the reactions from around the web on the articles, videos, photos and everything else you post online. Have a look how the Swedish city of Katrineholm or the Foreign Office is using Twingly Channels for exactly this purpose.

6. Content curation
Maybe you have a hobby or a topic that you are really interested in and that you would like to spread the word about. Use Twingly Channels for aggregating selected sources about your specific area of interest and promote it among your friends, through your blog, Facebook and Twitter account. This Channel for instance gives insights in how it is to live in France as a Swede, containing a collection of sources from Swedish bloggers in France.

Maybe you use Twingly in a very different way as mentioned in those 6 use cases? Let us know!

Why using Twitter could help your Investor Relations

For companies there seem to be a trillion reasons why they should start using and paying attention to Social Media. The use cases range from creating loyal customers to getting feedback about products and services, from offering an additional channel for customer service to pushing out marketing messages, from informing existing and potential clients/consumers about products and events to staying updated about what competitors are doing. Give yourself a few minutes and you probably will come up with dozens of more reasons.

But there is one benefit of Social Media that is remarkebly absent from all the top lists you find online about why companies should start to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube and so on: To improve investor relations (IR) and to disseminate firm-initiated disclosures and news. By using Social Media channels, especially smaller and medium-sized companies can reach out to existing  and potential Investors and keep them informed.

On IR Web Report, a web site specialized in publishing research and news about online investor relations practices, we found an interesting interview with Hal White, assistant professor of accounting at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Together with a two other researchers from the same school Hal has created an academic paper trying to answer the question whether companies now – while being able to use direct-access information technology – can act as their own information intermediaries.

One of their key findings is that Twitter appears to be an effective way for firms to communicate with investors and to disseminate information to the stock market. And this is especially true for those firms which are too small, insignificant or simply too young to catch the mainstream and industry media’s attention. Funny enough these are the companies that usually have the biggest need to establish investor relations (e.g. technology startups looking for funding).

For people who are enthusiastic about the new ways of communication enabled by the digital revolution – like us at Twingly and probably most of you, our dear readers – this doesn’t come as a big surprise. But as IR Web Report author Dominic Jones states, for many people in the IR community the common believe is rather that Social Media is a waste of time.

In the extensive interview, the researcher Hal White gives some deeper insights into the study the report is based on. The three professors took a sample of technology firms (due to their qualification as early adopters), analyzed their tweeting patterns and looked at whether Twitter messages, especially those based around news-events and press releases, had a significant impact on the information environment of the company. Usually, it had. And usually, tweeting was clearly beneficial for the less visible companies but not so much for the more visible companies that are already getting attention (often with the help of newswires).

Hal White also gives en explanation of why it is mainly Twitter that has been embraced by IR departments. He assumes that this is because of Twitter’s short messaging style, which makes it easy to spread a news even to people on their mobile phones, and to do so in real time. It’s the best way to reach out to investors who often are on the go and who need to be as efficient as possible in their news and information management. The researchers also looked at blogs but found that there was a lot of opinion and two-way-communication rather than a strong focus on distribution of press releases and news (which, as boring as it sounds, is what investors need, at least in the initial stage).

Assuming that the report is right (which we don’t have any doubts on judging from our own experience with using Twitter for Twingly-related news), the best thing you as a small or mid-sized company can do is start using Twitter for publishing your corporate news, following venture capitalists, business angels and other seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, and of course the financial press. Some will follow you back. Let’s see if it will help you to create and improve your investor relations (and eventually get funded).

If you haven’t really used Twitter yet, here, here and here are a few articles you should read before getting started.

/Martin Weigert

(Illustration: stock.xchng)

The age of transparency

The web is making people and companies more transparent. Even though some users are concerned about losing the anonymity that they enjoyed so much during the past 20 years of online existence, the increased transparency of today’s digital world can help our society become better. And it forces people to tell the truth, since lying without getting revealed is increasingly difficult.

When I studied Business Communication from 2003 to 2006 the (marketing) world was still pretty much like in the old days. One of the basic rules we learned was that every product or service can be positioned on the market in the way you want, you just need to find the right way of communicating it. I don’t remember “transparency” being part of the curriculum, at least not as a major factor to consider when working with business communication. Apparently transparency was something Marketers and PR people didn’t need to care about too much, even though Google of course already existed – but Social Networks were still in their early days, the blogosphere just started to grow, and the rise of real time web was still a few years away.

But now, five years later, everything has changed. Every promise about a product or service can be verified or disproved online. A quick search gives consumers access to product reviews in online stores and on specific review sites, blog postings from people having used the product/service (via Twingly Blog Search for example), and of course shorter feedback like tweets or status updates (via Twingly Microblog Search). You could even use a search engine for sentiment analysis to get a quick input whether people on Twitter like the product/service or not.

Product characteristics are more transparent than every before and each company that sells poor quality products but tells everybody they are the best you can get will eventually be exposed and fail.

But transparency does not only change the way marketing and advertising work. Transparency also affects politics, on the one hand due to a new class of observers such as blogs that follow and analyse the actions taken by politicians, and on the other hand because of the wide access to information which enables everyone to make a quick fact check of things being said by politicians. Even whistle-blower sites like Wikileaks or video platforms like YouTube improve people’s access to information, both by revealing secret documents like Wikileaks did yesterday and by providing everybody with visual witness reports and other videos to past events that otherwise might have been forgotten.

Even those whose mission it is to create transparency around government’s and companies’ actions are now becoming more transparent: Journalists and Bloggers. Thanks to news aggregators and search engines like Google News, it takes a few seconds to compare what different newspapers and content sites have written about a specific topic. One can find out at a glance who published what, who quoted whom, and who didn’t correct a detail or accusation that already has been revealed as being incorrect.

Transparency forces each of us to question our own actions and behaviour. Politicians who made a big mistake, companies who praised products that turned out to be faulty and news outlets that created their own truth just to sell more papers or to get more page impressions. In the digital age they all have to fear being exposed. Everyone makes mistakes, and most people are willing to forgive – if there is a confession. But if the one responsible tries to cover up the problem, things can get ugly very quickly these days. Because there will be always someone who stumbles upon inconsistencies. And after that has happened, the documentation of it will be everywhere on the web – forever.

Sometimes the phrase “The Internet never forgets” is used to criticize the web’s capability of finding content published year’s or even decades ago. While people’s memories slowly fade away, the Internet can tell you those old memories in a detailed way is if was yesterday they happened. But even though this might become an issue for people who find photos from their wild teenage days online, in many other situations the Internet’s inability to forget is a strength.

Because the human brain also forgets things that it actually needs for making the right judgements, for evaluating people’s or companies’ actions and statements. A politician that is about to get an important role in the parliament or a company that receives a lot of positive attention for a successful CSR campaign might have a dark, flawed past. A past that both individuals and mainstream media are often good at forgetting. But Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs and other sites don’t forget.

There is a flip-side to transparency, yes. But while our attitude towards questionable photos from teenage days has to change anyway, the pros of transparency might have a much bigger impact on our society than people realize. The web does not only increase the transparency of companies and public individuals with power, but it helps us to remember this kind of information that we should not but very likely would forget. And this is something that could help our society to grow and to get better.

What do you think: Is the age of transparency something rather positive or negative?

/Martin Weigert

Photo: stock.xchng

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

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

A whole new world

Hi Twingly supporters! Yesterday was amazing! Project was an absolute success. As an intern here at Twingly, this has been a fantastic learning experience. And what’s even better is all of you, who helped us make this site come true. Wonderful work, thank you!

My name is Karin Gilje, and while I’m currently doing my internship here at Twingly, I am also a student studying business development, marketing and sales at this business school: in Linköping. I’ll be graduating in June of this year and will be available for lots of cool jobs. 🙂

Why am I here at Twingly? Well, I have a pretty cool idea for a future online shop and blog, and in order to make that successful, I really need to understand how the world of digital and social media works.

My first step into social media was to register on Twitter. I mean, one of the fun things about social media is to be a part of it yourself, right? It took a while to understand the tweet lingo, however, after testing Twitter out for about 10 minutes, I gave up. It’s hard to get started with it! However, now a few weeks later, I am on track and I am living my ambition.

Although I may be a traditional business student, my ways of thinking and seeing things are not quite as traditional. So, digital media should really be the industry for me to be in!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @karingilje

Twingly launches to give an overview of the social media monitoring market

Today we launch the wiki (in Swedish) to give an overview of existing social media monitoring tools.

We felt that it was quite a task to get a comprehensive overview of all the social media monitoring tools available and that there were very few places to connect companies looking for social media monitoring tools with the companies offering these.

So we thought a wiki where everyone can contribute would be the perfect solution. Now every company offering social media monitoring tools has the opportunity to publish details of their social media monitoring services on, as well are their customers able to say what they think about them.

From the start there are seven tools represented in great detail with screenshots and text explaining how these work as well as pricing. We’ve been promised that quite some more will be added in the near future. When you as a company post information, make sure you provide your potential customers with easy to understand and yet detailed information. It will enable them to get a much better initial picture of your tools before contacting you.

The amazing response we got within a short time after the launch just confirms that this was the right thing to do; so we are really glad about having kicked this one off!

Thanks to everyone who already contributed with content and helps building this platform into a success story from day one. We look forward to see developing into the new market-place and information-pool for social media tools. And big thanks to Karin Gilje, our intern who did all the hard work to make this come true!

Some blog & media love:
Cloud Nine
Stefan Krafft
PR 2.0
Disruptive Media
Peter Alsbjer

How Social Media is Changing the Definition of News

This year Twingly was at BlogWorld Expo (#bwe09) in fabulous Las Vegas – the yearly expo for new media enthusiasts and proffessionals. I participated in a panel session with Mike Lee, Robert Scoble and Mark Evans about how social media is changing the definition of News. The discussion circulated around an array of topics like business models, credibility, the role of the editor and syndication. Here follows a brief summary of what was said on scene.

Competition and narrow margins lead to a dumbing-down of news in general. Mainstream media moves towards the lowest common denominator in reporting, reducing it to entertainment in order to find a message that is interesting to as many people as possible.

Media is very far from the ideals of the 60’s when news were all about doing the right thing and educating the readers. Especially in the US a whole day of news reporting can be spent almost on a single story that is mere entertainment and have very little actual impact on people’s lives.

One of the big changes going on behind the scenes is that online news are getting a large part of distribution through the social web. Google is still the largest driver to news sites but Facebook and Twitter has become often the second largest source of traffic for news from global sites all the way down to hyper-locals. According to Robert there are also news sites in the US that see as much as a third of their pageviews coming from Iphone users, which is an incredible amount.

One of the needs journalism serves is to verify sources of breaking news. The same sanity checks are not always performed when news are published through social media. The realtime web has driven the news cycle down to five seconds and a rumour can very quickly spread to millions of people without verification.

There are some trends that counter this problem, as people become more and more aware of the issue they will be more reluctant to spread rumors without verification. More and more people are also walking around with cellphones capable of shooting high quality video and photos, increasing the probability that eyewitnesses can publish proof of what actually happened.

Curation is rapidly becoming a buzz-word with services like Twingly Channels and Twitter Lists allowing people to create news flows and share with others.

In order to adapt to the new media landscape, traditional media needs to commit to change. There is a very high inertia from within the organizations and their cost structures. They are also in great need of finding a sustainable business model.

A telling fact of the importance of social media is that for the first time BlogWorld Expo has major sponsorships from brands like Ford and Bud Light. Companies are increasingly aware of the impact of the social web.

In conclusion, the social media has indeed changed the distribution of news, diminshed the news cycle into seconds and made it both easier and more difficult to verify news stories and sources. Among our media partners, we see many good example on how to interact with the social media and the real time web. Since the readers are hooked on the real time web the media houses are following. Exactly how and in what way is to early to say, but there is no doubt that the effect on the definition of news is permanent.