Sweden and its people are known for many things – music icons Peter, Bjorn and John, furniture superstore Ikea, automakers Saab and Volvo, environmentalism, high taxes and subtlety. It does not require in-depth research for one to discover that Swedes tend to believe that outward displays of emotion are distasteful; children are preferred to be seen, not heard; and appearing to be reserved and even shy can have a positive outcome in business settings.
So why does this matter?
And what does it have to do with social media?
Answer: the double edge sword of self expression by way of social media that usually advances companies and organizations in the United States can have a negative impact in cultural environments such as Sweden. Therefore brands planning to use social media to reach targeted audiences as part of a larger marketing and outreach strategy must do so even more carefully and cautiously. Brands must not appear to be boastful, vain or immodest but rather genuine, tasteful and informative. Furthermore, they should utilize third party advocates such as Yelp, peer to peer bloggers, and relevant thought leaders to help spread messages. According to Dave Fleet, who pens the blog www.davefleet.org, which explores marketing, communications and social media, outlines five lessons pertaining to social media and self promotion. They include:
1. People react badly to over-self promotion
2. Base your claims on solid facts
3. Back-up your words with action
4. It’s not about you; it’s about others
5. Help others and they’ll help you
While these tips may seem similar to social media “rules of the road,” they are especially relevant to countries such as Sweden that avoid public ostentation.