How much social media engagement is too much?
By Aaron Ogg
The social media universe is abuzz with chatter over the Swedish government’s Curators of Sweden project, which places the country’s @sweden Twitter account in the hands of a different citizen each week.
The project, which reportedly launched in December as a tourism promotion effort, garnered a high level of scrutiny this following a New York Times article detailing the government initiative.
Some of the @sweden tweets are laden with profane and racist remarks and other questionable content, while others have included a boar hunting photo, a chewing tobacco tin and a Robocop reference.
“No one owns the brand of Sweden more than its people,” Thomas Brühl, VisitSweden CEO, told Mashable when the project started.
“With this initiative, we let them show their Sweden to the world.”
This might just be my love of all things Robocop talking, but as an exercise in information democracy and innovative social media engagement, my hat is off. Clearly the Swedish government values its citizenry and understands that its national identity is comprised of many (many, many) personality types.
That said, there is that not small matter of you never know what some people will say when given a very tall soapbox.
Every day I plunge headfirst into the tourism marketing end of numerous social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube and more. So many CVBs and DMOs consistently knock it out of the park. Often it’s nothing fancy — a “good morning,” an evocative photo or some other simple effort to interest residents, visitors and faithful followers. Genuine engagement attempts that don’t read as sales pitches tend to get lots of mileage.
However, tourism marketers also deal with their fair share of gripes, complaints and other negative feedback. What seems to separate the winners from the losers is how effectively they manage criticism. Industry experts soon learn that a converted kvetcher can make one of the most powerful brand representatives imaginable. When ignored, they quickly can become a viral nightmare.
In Sweden’s case, one could easily say that this filter-less approach is asking for trouble. Perhaps they don’t see it that way and are simply embracing a style of social sharing in which safeguards and censorship take a symbolic backseat to the noble cause of supporting absolute freedom in the digital space.
Either way, it never ceases to amaze me what some folks will say. I’m interested to see if and how the Swedish government addresses the issue.
Aaron Ogg is Group Tour Media’s content marketing director. He resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., and enjoys social media, Apple products, games of chance, punctuality and the occasional meal of sushi. Follow him on Twitter, @aarongrouptour.