Twingly Team Interviews: “Social Media has yet to solve major global problems”

Today we continue our series of Twingly Team Interviews. Pontus Edenberg is Business Development Director, came to Twingly in 2007 and has a background in the music industry. Among other things he explains the main difference between the music business and the Internet startup world and describes the next challenge for social media.

Hi Pontus. Tell us about yourself and what you do at Twingly.
I’m 37, started my first company when I was 17 (my dad had to sign the registration forms). I have run several small companies, mainly within the music sector. In 2000 I was one of the founders of several websites, among them HitQuarters which was at that time the largest directory of people working in the music industry. After that I was employed by a Swedish company supplying US newspapers with different crossword and sudoku services for their websites. We also arranged an Online Sudoku World Championship with the final in London.

One day in spring 2007 I read a story about Twingly and a deal they had done with a South African newspaper. I called them and few days later I had my first day at the company. Today I work with business development. I try to combine the needs of our customers with our assets (products) with the goal of offering solutions that are as beneficial as possible for our customers.

What was your pitch to Twingly that convinced them to hire you?
From my experience with US newspapers I was pretty convinced that I could help Twingly to develop their business, so I called them and said something like “You probably need help in getting media companies as customers. I can do that!”

Did you keep that promise?
I think so… ; ) Within the next couple of years Twingly got major media clients in Sweden, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Norway etc. It was a great ride, since our approach was quite knew, and it was really interesting to learn to understand the differences within the media companies in different countries.

You started your career in the music business. Was it difficult to adapt to the Internet sector?
No not really. But the music industry is very much focused on people’s dreams and to produce hits. If a song didn’t find its way to the charts within 3 weeks, it was useless. It was a good lesson for me to learn thinking in the long term at Twingly. When working at a web startup some of the products need time to reach a critical mass or a certain awareness to take off. Just think about Twitter that took several years to reach the tipping point after which usage numbers exploded.

Do your clients have the right expectations about what Twingly tools can deliver?
Yes usually they do. They have in general a quite good understanding about that it takes time to build good brand awareness in social media. Twingly is a vital part of the mix, and our clients know that they have do a lot of work themselves to make it work.

When you started at Twingly the term “social media” hardly existed. What has changed in the past 3 years?
I believe the most interesting aspect is that major companies and organisations in a much broader way not only have been forced to listen more to their clients, but also have found major benefits in doing so. They are getting much more aware on what people are saying about them out there and that when people gather in the wrong direction it hurts, even if you are a billion dollar company. It also can happen very fast, so it is not enough to just react. Major companies have to be proactive and listen to the chatter in the digital world. By doing that they can handle situations before they turn into disasters. It is also very interesting to see how we can use social media to help one another, just pop a question on Twitter and you get answers that can’t be answered by Wikipedia. However, what we haven’t seen yet, which I think is a great challenge to come, is to solve major global problems through social media. Currently we are solving day-to-day issues, but if we can use that strength on the really difficult tasks, that is when I think it gets really interesting.

On a more personal level, what web trends are you especially excited about?
I’m getting particularly excited about the possibilities of personalized streaming media. When you truly can experience “anything, anywhere, only for you”. We are moving towards that but there is still a long way to go there.

What can Twingly users and clients expect for 2011?
We have some really interesting product developments coming out in 2011 that I think will take Twingly to a new level. I hope I can be a part of that and find even better solutions for companies to communicate.

Since you have been working in the music industry one has to assume that you are passionate about music. True?
Of course! I am a total sucker for top 20 music, especially pop/dance. “Club Can’t Handle Me” with Flo Rida probably got the most spins last year…

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