Broadcast radar

Public service broadcaster Swedish Radio (Sverige Radio) has a range of local and national stations serving particular age and language groups, which reach 5 million people every day, or 7 million every week, according to senior staff at the organisation. In a country of 9.5 million, more than half of the population listen to radio daily.

Three years ago Swedish Radio made a significant shift, focusing on social media to build the brand and encourage listening.

During a recent visit to Sweden, discussed social strategy with three key people at Swedish Radio, which has a staff of nearly 2,000 and 40 radio stations.

How is Swedish Radio achieving success in social?

1. By considering social, FM and mobile as of equal importance

Social media is considered as important as FM broadcast and the mobile web, Christian Gillinger, project manager at Swedish Radio, explained.

"We have three different ways of reaching our audience and interacting with our audience; that's broadcast, digital and social – and they are equally important," said Martin Jönsson, deputy director of programmes, who joined Swedish Radio earlier this year from one of Sweden's largest daily newspapers. "Mobile is our first screen," he added.

2. By not 'chasing web traffic'

Swedish Radio is "no longer chasing web traffic", Gillinger explained. "The audience picks where they want to be and we go there," he said. "And that has been a gamechanger."

"Of course it is good if visits to social media lead to listening, we try to encourage that," Jönsson said, "but it is also important to build the brand and build the connection and make sure we are present in people's minds."

3. Through a network of super-users

In addition to four people within a dedicated social media team, local super-users generate ideas and inspire teams at the various radio stations. The super-users are themselves organised by a Facebook group, and have annual masterclasses.

4. By creating a Social Media Handbook

Swedish Radio last year created the Social Media Handbook, a guide for setting up, managing and best practice (a PDF of the handbook is here). It was distributed to everyone in the company "and it has replaced every policy we had made" for social, Gillinger said.

More than a year since it was distributed, the team is seeing results. It is "working well", he explained.

5. By having conversations with the audience

Like other organisations using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and YouTube, Swedish Radio is finding it is the conversations with the audience that yield results.

We've been working hard to stop the megaphone postsChristian Gillinger
"We've been working hard to stop the megaphone posts" where the news outlet is broadcasting messages, Gillinger said. "What happens instantly is that user-generated content starts to appear," he explained.

"If you don't talk with your audience, if you only talk to them, they will not share their own pictures. You must show you are interested and do something with that content. And that is trust you build over time."

His team made it clear to executives that "you can't expect results on day two".

An example of one of the conversations that took place recently was one which listened to the audience's experiences about speaking Finnish while living in Sweden. We have written about this case study here.

Conversations on social also provide stories. "It is not just a promotional tool, it is a way to get better and more relevant journalism," Gillinger said.

6. By gathering social media reports from 2,000 members of staff

President Obama visited Sweden in September and those working for Swedish Radio were encouraged to share any photos they were able to take on their smartphones using a hashtag.

The reports were then curated into a feed and posted on the website.

7. By choosing the right platform for a particular audience

Like other organisations, Swedish Radio has found that particular platforms resonate with particular audiences. For example, a cooking show has found particular success on Pinterest, where many people pin and share recipes.

Interestingly, a radio programme on sex education for teenagers used, a Latvia-based social networking site where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.

"It works brilliantly as you can be anonymous and you don't need an account to write a comment," Yasmine El Rafie, development editor for social media, said, explaining that the radio team was able to embed the conversation on the website.

8. Through putting a radio player on Facebook

Swedish Radio is keen to be where the audience is. The company has created an embeddable player that can be added by any individual or company to any website, and has been embedded on the company's Facebook pages.

9. By creating a successful company page on Facebook

Swedish Radio has found particular success with what is essentially its corporate Facebook page.

El Rafie curates the page, taking the most shared posts from the 200 Facebook pages which are run by the radio stations and shows, and sharing those to the corporate page. "So it's sort of a 'best of' page," she explained.

"It's almost like cheating, as I pick those posts when I see that they are doing well," she said.

"It gives my group a brilliant way to both market our company and also to analyse," Gillinger said, explaining how it is one way they work out what type of content Facebook's algorithm is prioritising.

10. By embracing Spotify

Swedish music service Spotify has offices close the the headquarter of Swedish Radio. The radio station is using Spotify to share playlists on social, and has amassed 32,000 followers in the app, Gillinger said, and 84,000 followers overall.

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