Knowledge sharing is enabling us to become a digital-first news organisation, says Hanna Österberg, Editor for Social Media at Svenska Dagbladet, a daily newspaper published in Sweden

Hannah reflects on her role as Editor for Social Media at Svenska Dagbladet. Click here to attend the free Digital Identities seminar for journalists in Copenhagen on 26 April, where she will be speaking. This seminar is powered by Google News Lab.

Hanna Österberg, Editor for Social Media at Svenska Dagbladet / 
Photo credits: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD

Hanna, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m the Editor of Social Media at Svenska Dagbladet (SvD). Founded in 1884, it is a daily newspaper published in Stockholm. I lead the strategic work to define how we present our stories on different platforms. We’re constantly trying to understand and apply what being digital-first means and how social media can play a role. For instance, we’re currently looking into the use of social media to present complex stories in an episodic manner.

“I want to bridge the gap between what my colleagues want to achieve online and what’s possible with the tools that are available to us.”

What are your responsibilities as Editor of Social Media?
I am the only one who focuses purely on social media. My responsibilities include day-to-day planning as well as forecasting where we should be heading next — platforms, formats and trends. We work with everyone, from reporters to editors, because we need to support the entire organisation to make the transition from writing stories for the archetypical SvD reader to a much broader audience online. We also have a range of skill and mindsets, and I want to bridge the gap between what my colleagues want to achieve online and what’s possible with the tools that are available to us. It’s a relatively new role, which means I’ve had a steep learning curve.

Do you have a process to reach out to new audiences on social media?
We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. We regularly work with reporters to publish their stories on different social platforms. We provide operational support and discover communities who may have a tangential interest in the story. We’re also exploring how we use language to make our stories more accessible to new audiences online.

“As we transition to a digital-first organisation, every department has access to the same resources, so we have to work as a team.”

What drives internal collaboration within your organisation?
As we transition to a digital-first organisation, every department has access to the same resources, so we have to work as a team. There is a strong case for collaboration as our bigger projects have the potential to engage multiple audiences. During our weekly team meetings, a person from each department joins us to create a social media plan. We look at our big stories and correlate them to existing trends on social media. We also look for opportunities where our social content can signpost audiences to our premium channels. This process works because we encourage knowledge sharing within the organisation.

What is your criteria for success?
The definition of success evolves as we adapt to new platforms and technologies. At the moment we’re looking into metrics that indicate user commitment. Sometimes we produce multiple digital assets for a single story. These assets have an impact in isolation but also in relation to each other. For example, a graphic can be viewed on the alongside the story on our website, or as an embedded image in a tweet or an update on Facebook. In each instance, it changes meaning. As a result, we may define different goals for different elements of a single story.

What is the business model for working in this way?
The end goal is to increase our membership — people who are willing to pay for quality digital journalism. Our digital assets on social media signpost existing readers to our premium channels. They also enable us to reach out to new audiences, who may not be aware that we have considerable expertise to analyse or report on news stories.

You’re speaking at the Digital Identities workshop in Copenhagen on April 26, 2017. You also took part in the the pilot workshop in Sweden last year. How did you benefit from the the session?
I attended the Stockholm workshop with two colleagues. The full-day session was enjoyable and inspiring. It was useful to look at new ways to produce news stories using social media. We developed a project idea during the workshop and the free, follow-up support helped us understand how we can use storytelling techniques to maintain reader interest and evoke empathy.

Hanna will be speaking at Digital Identities seminar in Copenhagen on Wednesday, 26 April. This free programme is powered by Google News Lab and is open to journalists across Denmark. If you plan to attend, please register soon as places are limited. We’re also running seminars in Amsterdam, Oslo and Delhi. Click here to learn more.

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