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Twitter: will Finland follow the world?

March 1st, 2011

Twitter, one of the buzz words of recent world events: the Haiti earthquakes last year, the Brazilian landslides earlier this year and especially the current events in the Middle East have taken this micro-blogging service away from Hollywood’s Kutchers, Biebers and Gagas and propelled it into a relevant message tool that can stir more than a few teenage hearts.

Twitter’s full potential is yet to be reached and once you look around you see all kinds of new and original uses, from the Dutch local police officer informing about events in his precinct to Brazilians telling each other about traffic jams or informing their loved ones that they are doing fine after a landslide has hit their neighbourhood (Twitter is used by nearly 1 out of 4 in Brazil by the way…).

And then there is of course the political use: not only has Twitter been instrumental in the current events in the Middle East, it also has become a rising star in established democracies, having been heavily adopted by for instance US, UK, Swedish and Dutch politicians among others during the past few years in election campaigns and beyond.

But what is the situation in Finland? Yes, President Halonen tweets, Yle showed tweets about the Independance Day Ball and the occasional politician and political party has its own Twitter feed but the often heard perception still is “Twitter is hardly used here”… and why would that be?

In this cradle of mobile phone technology, people en mass join Facebook yet do not seem to care about Twitter too much despite its many possibilities. Companies and parties often have the almost obligatory Twitter logo on their sites but once you look further it is often used as a glorified RSS feed with few subscribers or at worst is a sleeping account that was last updated with a “Merry Christmas” in December.

Could it be that, contrary to Facebook, you actually need to provide interesting content to gain followers that shies people away from Twitter? Or could it be the weather that makes Finns rather sit at home and watch and share FB-pics? Is it social media application overkill? Or is Twitter yet to break through in Finland? Contrary to other European countries, Finland’s April elections do not seem to give that breakthrough push yet. Time can only tell…


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