Sweden: More than IKEA

(^MK) As our class literature Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands by Morrison and Conaway outlines over and over again, Swedes are very proud of their comprehensive social welfare system. The book suggests that this is part of Sweden’s Humanitarian Culture that has a very strong focus on the quality of life. Another top priority is given to the environment. Thus, also an information technology infrastructure is part of the “quality of life” in Sweden, as this week’s blog post reveals.

Today’s Question Of The Week is to highlight one key research insight on Sweden I found interesting and to explain what implications it has for brands wanting to use social media to reach an audience in the Swedish market. As I looked into Sweden’s communication infrastructure, I found some interesting facts: There are 5.506 million main telephone lines in use (as of 2007). This ranks Sweden #30 in country compared with the world. Besides that, Sweden is ranked #51 in the penetration of cell phones (10.371 million/2007). However, in terms of Internet hosts, Sweden ranks #20 compared with the rest of the world (3.579 million/2008). By way of illustration, the U.S. is ranked #1 with 316 million Internet hosts, Japan #2 (40M), Germany #3 (23M). In 2007, there were seven million Internet users, which ranked Sweden #35 in comparison with the rest of the world. These numbers are all retrieved from the CIA World Factbook. I was surprised and never thought that a northern European country had such a highly developed telecommunications infra structure. Sweden is among the leading countries for fixed-line, cell phone, Internet and broadband penetration!

What does this mean specifically for Social Media? Socialmediatoday.com reveals that there are 75,000 Twitter users in Sweden. According to a report from Sysomos, a social media analytics company (“An In-Depth Look Inside the Twitter World”), about 0.54 percent of all members on Twitter are Swedish: That makes Swedes the 15th most active people on Twitter!

Besides the insight of Sweden’s highly developed communications infrastructure, I was also very positively surprised when I surfed the websites of Sweden’s government: Part of Sweden’s executive is the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications and the Minister of Communications (!), Mrs. Åsa Torstensson. The Ministry has posted an IT goal list with the title An Information Society For All. It states that “Sweden must be a sustainable information society for all” and outlines how important Internet access, modern infrastructure and IT services are for public benefit. Again, the Ministry thinks a highly developed information technology infrastructure benefits the quality of life.

Summing these insights up, there are very important aspects for brands using social media to reach an audience in the Swedish market: 1) Social Media and Internet is a fast-growing medium in Sweden (even supported by the government). 2) Swedes, as explained earlier, are very environmentally conscious and 3) Swedes might judge things (brands, products) on how positively they impact their quality of life. As a conclusion, a social media brand strategy with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility, which highlights the brand’s benefits for society as a whole, could be very successful.

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One Response to Sweden: More than IKEA

  1. You successfully pull information from multiple sources, including cultural reading to come up with a picture of what the communications landscape in Sweden is like and offer good tips on what this means for brands. As it stands, the conclusions are quite short at the end of the post while the majority of your post is the “set up” for what you will share at the end. As much as possible, try to reverse the ratio so most of your post is about your conclusions, with only as much support and setup information as you need to make and prove your point. And, by the way, great blog post title. (3)

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