Community Conference 2009: Tommy Sollen, social media manager Visit Sweden

As I said, the Community Conference 2009 in Copenhagen is a mix of business, media,

Tommy Sollen talked about how he set up a community for Visit Sweden. While he did this, he set up a WordPress blog to talk about the development of the community and the site. He was working in the open. Tourism organisations across Europe and in Canada, which helped in the development. They developed Community of It focuses photos and stories. The main goal is to help the members of community to inspire each other. It’s built on the EPiServer content management system.

They have tags on all the content including geo-tags and activities. One of the things I liked is that they also have a tag for the seasons. He talked about how they encourage people to tag photos because the titles provided too little information to properly index. Photo sharing has surpassed their expectations, and they now have more than 12,000 photos (the site was launched in late 2007). He highlighted some of the photos and said that they could easily create an online magazine just with user-generated photos. If they use a photo in their print magazine, they give full photo credits to who uploaded the photos and offer to buy the photo.

One of the users, from Italy, had taken a photo that their print magazine editor thought was perfect for an article. They contacted him and offered to pay him for the photo, but he refused to accept payment.

They do no marketing for the site, but they now have 6,300 registered members, 12,000 photos and more than a thousand travel stories. They have a community and the development blog, but they wanted to know what came next so they integrated Community of more tightly with the Visit Sweden website.

They have also created Sweden pages on Facebook and a Sweden channel on YouTube. “It’s about placing ourselves in the social media sphere,” he said. They also have created widgets that allow people to add these to their blogs, sites or social networks.

He was asked about the issue of people on Facebook saying that they would come to an event but didn’t. The person asking the question asked if they had tried to offer a coupon to encourage them to turn out. Tommy said that he wanted events but hadn’t got the budget yet for it, but he believes that events would help support the community.

He was asked about how 6000 users was seen as a success. He said that people have spent not just minutes, not just hours but days on the site and had ‘created ambassadors for Sweden’.