3 insights from Sweden to harness media & generate word of mouth

The “Curators of Sweden” was a great example of tourism marketing. The campaign featured an overall initiative where the controls of the countries @Sweden Twitter handle were handed over to Swedish citizens for rotating one-week stints. People from all over the world were invited to ask questions and exchange thoughts in an unedited forum. The trust and openness was meant to reinforce the values the country wanted to portray. Plus it certainly earned them some significant media coverage, especially in a global political era where freedom of speech is not had by all. Learn more about the Curators of Sweden campaign in this summary video.

Well, Sweden is at it again.

And they certainly know how to churn up word of mouth to leverage social media and both online and offline traditional media. The latest campaign by the Swedish Tourist Association launched April 6. Sweden now has its own international country phone number, +46 771 793 336, where callers are connected to speak to a random Swede. Once again, people are encouraged to ask ordinary Swedes about anything they want from hiking, feminism, snow, gay rights, parental leave, northern lights, Ikea meatballs – whatever! Volunteer Swedish ambassadors, who have downloaded the app, are the ones who receive the random calls. So far more then 11,000 calls have been placed. The initiative is to celebrate 250 years since the country abolished censorship. Pretty cool eh?

Watch a video about how it works here.


Admit it, you’re going to try calling the number aren’t you?

And that’s the point, there’s and irresistible temptation to this campaign that taps human nature.

So far the video has garnered over 378,000 views, and has earned them media coverage from the New York Post, The Guardian in the UK, Time Magazine, Australia TV, and countless other smaller media outlets worldwide.

This initiative is a great example for learning how to harness social media, traditional media, and generate word of mouth. Key insights:

1. The power of story. To leverage word of mouth, mouth and mobile online and off you need to wrap your message in a story. People love to hear and share a good story. Who wouldn’t want to hear about crazy random phone calls being made to Sweden with uncensored responses?

2. Video + visuals. While the PR folks can send out releases and contact traditional media, nothing brings a story to life like visuals and video. Having a video that is searchable and linked to the publicity push helps gain coverage. Media love stories with visuals, and visuals are what will get posts shared to social media noticed.

3. The unbelievable / remarkable / absurd / funny element. Whenever a story has an angle that prompts people to scratch their heads or react with a “OMG – I have to see that” you know you’ve got something word of mouth worthy. This particular campaign screamed trust and authenticity, something sadly lacking in many parts of the world.

Of all these three, I have to say it really does all evolve out of great storytelling. Without that, the other two really don’t matter. When you learn tell great stories, you have truly mastered one of the key elements of marketing. And when you are constantly on the lookout for an interesting story, or how to frame a story around your business, it makes leveraging your media so much easier.

What stories do you tell about your business? How could you make those stories irresistible for others to tell?

Mary Charleson

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