Sweden boasts world's 'most democratic' Twitter account
Published: 21 Dec 2011 12:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Dec 2011 12:44 GMT+01:00
By handing its official Twitter account over to regular citizens, including a priest, a teacher and a ”coffee-drinking bull-dyke", Sweden defends its reputation as one of the world's most democratic nations, The Local's Rebecca Martin discovers.
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Through the Curators of Sweden project, officials hope that its citizens will help reflect a true image of the country through their tweets.
“Curators of Sweden is a way to explore new possibilities in communicating what Sweden is. The different curators will all give their own picture of Sweden, in a way one official voice could never do,” Agnes Gudmundsen Lidbeck of the Swedish Institute told The Local.
The project is a joint initiative of the Swedish Institute and VisitSweden. Every week a new person receives the exclusive rights to the Twitter account "@sweden", aiming to present Sweden to the world.
”Every week, someone in Sweden is @sweden: sole ruler of the world’s most democratic Twitter account,” the project website reads.
By means of the various curators’ narrations, not one Sweden is conveyed, but several.
”We have chosen people who are already active on Twitter, some are known in Sweden, some are even known abroad, while others are everyday Swedes with different backgrounds and different life stories. It is the mix that is important, rather than the individual people,” said Gudmundsen Lidbeck.
The hope is that the curators, through their tweets, will create an interest and arouse curiosity about Sweden abroad and show the diversity the country has to offer.
They will also present a very different Sweden to the one traditionally reflected in the media.
“No one owns the Swedish brand more than its citizens and with this initiative we allow 'their Sweden' to be seen at the same time as we reinforce the image of Sweden as open, real, new-thinking and thoughtful,” said Thomas Brühl, CEO of VisitSweden in a statement.
On December 10th the first tweeter, the writer and marketing expert Jack Werner took over the @sweden account.
”I was happy and proud to be asked. I have always liked sharing my image of Sweden with tourists and other visitors, and to be able to do so on Twitter feels like a natural and enjoyable step forward for me,” Werner said in conjunction with the launch.
And Werner's tweets received attention abroad within the first week of the project.
”Good people of Sweden, know that Jack has just discovered Joe Cocker, made his girlfriend drop her juice by giving her a hug, and does not—I repeat—does not like Justin Bieber,” American news-magazine Time wrote a few days into the venture.
With the project now in its second week, Werner has passed the baton of the @sweden account into the hands of Hasan Ramic, who came to Sweden with his family in the 1990s and is a resident of Stockholm suburb Hjulsta.
Ramic follows Werner in that he also tweets about large and small issues, public and private.
According to Gudmundsen Lidbeck, this is exactly the intention of the project.
”What we have told them is to continue being themselves on Twitter. They are not to be loudspeakers for an advertising campaign or to try to fit in to some sort of profile,” she said.
Instead, they are to treat the account as they would their own. Which has caused some people to react.
"There has been an amazing interest from abroad and we have a lot more new followers since the project started. Most of the feedback has been positive, but there are those who seem to have been provoked by what our tweeters write, as well,” said Gudmundsen Lidbeck.
However, this does not overly bother those behind the project.
”We maintain that it will be the whole, rather than single tweets from our individual tweeters, that will give a true and fair picture of Sweden,” Gudmundsen Lidbeck told the Local.
The project will continue for the immediate future, with another ten tweeters lined up to follow Ramic's and Werner's example.
Among these will be an editorial writer, a priest, a Swedish teacher and a ”coffee-drinking bull-dyke” according to the project instigators.
For seven days, one of these will recommend things to do and places to see in Sweden, sharing their very diverse opinions and ideas along as they represent Sweden through their tweets.
After that, another takes over and does the same—but differently, according to the website.
“Follow all nine million of us. Welcome to Sweden.”