Startup City Magazine

The Social Media Experiments Continue

By Sanjay Mehta , Joint CEO, Social Wavelength

Sanjay Mehta , Joint CEO, Social Wavelength

Sanjay Mehta is the Joint CEO of Social Wavelength, which is a social media agency. It was founded in 2009 by Sanjay Mehta, Hareesh Tibrewala, and Mihir Karkare. It is a brand of Social OR Outsourcing and provides a variety of solutions to fulfill companies and brands’ social media needs. The company had raised an undisclosed amount of funding in its second round of angel funding from four investors, including two of its existing investors Sunish Sharma and Jayendra Shah.

While the social media space has matured a lot in the last couple of years, we are far from claiming any kind of established norms or proven best practices in the use of social media.

So the experiment continues.

And some are getting it better than others.

Let's examine the fundamentals of social media ownership, if at all, there is any relevance to a word of that kind.

If you are a brand, and you run a Facebook page, who "owns" that page? I presume, you can say, you, the brand, own it. And if you own it, you decide what kind of content goes up and what doesn't. But does that mean, you disallow content that can be damaging to you? For example, complaints, etc.?

Different brands have different sensitivities on these matters.

Many brands are concerned enough to not allow such mentions at all. They want to delete them all.

Some permit a little negative, but as soon as competition or a strong negativism comes in, they want to pull it out.

And there are but a few who believe that the medium is truly open, and all content should be allowed to be up there, and responded to.

This is where brands are concerned and where there is a genuine ownership of the brand at one level.

What if the social media presence is of a community or a group or a society? Should it be far more liberal, at least to its members? Should it have a character or a bulletin board with very loose moderation?

This idea was taken to a very different level by one account. In fact, I would term it as one of the bravest and most interesting social media experiments!

This is the official Twitter account of the country, Sweden. The Twitter handle is @sweden.

The 'owners' of the account, the tourism board of Sweden, term this as "the world's most democratic Twitter account". What that actually means, is that the Twitter account @sweden is actually managed by a different, average Swedish citizen, each week!
The account declares WHO it is, that is running the account each week. And certainly, these are different, and ordinary citizens.

For example, the few people who have run the account for @sweden include:
1. A Christian Minister
2. An organic sheep farmer
3. An immigrant blogger
4. An "average lesbian truck driver"

The people who are picked to tweet for Sweden are free to write what they feel. The account is not really 'moderated'. Each person who is assigned to run the account has a contract, which stops him from using the account to put out racist comments, personal attacks, advertising or tweets that affect national security. Other than these, the citizens managing the account can tweet about anything!

So there have been cases where the person running @sweden has criticized the foreign minister, and there have been other tweets which are not exactly always flattering about things in Sweden.

And which is how they intended to be. In the words of Tommy Sollen, the social media manager of VisitSweden, "In this age of internet and transparency, if you want to be credible, you have to let go of control and empower the people. We want to be seen as progressive, open, credible and truthful."

Now this activity is clearly a double-edged sword. While it clearly generates a lot of hype and interest, and brings curious traffic to see what is happening on the Twitter account, there are some not-so-good aspects of Sweden which also get shared out. Will it worry potential tourists? Will it attract potential tourists?

The jury is clearly out. One thing is clear though, that uniqueness gets noticed and attracts followers / fans. In this case, the @sweden account has generated global interest. Which would have been hard to do, if it was one more simple average tourism twitter handle.

So have you noticed anything very unique in social media recently?

What is your new social media experiment all about?


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