The following report is part of a series of Social Media Landscape guides produced by the U.S. Department of State for its U.S.- European Media Hub which is described as connecting “European audiences with U.S. policymakers and perspectives.” The Media Hub, which is located in Brussels, Belgium, is part of the International Media Engagement Office of the U.S. Department of State. The report was produced in January 2010. See also:
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Hungary
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: France
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Latvia
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Spain
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Belarus
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Belgium
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Italy
U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Romania
For USG Official Use Only
Social Media Landscape: Norway
Norway at a glance
- One of the highest Internet access rates in Europe, with high levels of digital inclusion across a range of population demographics
- 86% of the Norwegian population is active online, with 62% of the 60+ age group (traditionally the most digitally-excluded) claiming regular Internet usage
- The Government, political parties and NGOs are making efforts to engage the public online by trialing online voting and creating platforms for debates on blogs
I. Executive Summary
Norway boasts an active online community with high Internet penetration rates in comparison to the rest of Europe. In addition, access rates are high and spread fairly evenly across demographic groups, age ranges and locations.
A range of social media activities are popular, including blogging and content sharing, however social networking is the most prominent activity, with Norwegian Facebook users now exceeding 2 million. A large number of Norwegian companies have an active social media presence with Facebook and Twitter the platforms of choice. Whilst, usage is high, few companies at present measure or evaluate social media and there is a reluctance to divert resources for this purpose.
Social media is emerging as a defining behavior of Internet usage in Norway, and the government has been keen to harness social media as a potential engagement and consultation tool. The government is also in the process of designing an innovative electronic voting system to increase voter turnout, which is hoped to be trialled in 2011. The government clearly appreciates the value of a digitally inclusive society and has set an ambitious target of supplying broadband connectivity to the entire country. In order to aid digital inclusivity the Government also ensures the text on public websites is suitable for older and weak sighted people. In keeping with most of Norwegian society, politicians, journalists and NGOs are all increasingly using social media as a communications tool.
There are no set guidelines for the Norweigan blogosphere, however the government has engaged in a project with leading blog platform Blogg.no and a reputable Norwegian blogger to draft a set of initial guidelines in cooperation with the Consumer Ombudsman and the Market Council. Norwegian bloggers are generally open to being contacted and the rules of engagement focus around openness, honesty and transparency and generally, online conversations occur in Norwegian and English, although the latter is often used if bloggers have a European audience or want to increase readership.
- Internet penetration is high at 90% of the population
- 96% of Norwegians own mobile phones
- Internet access rates are highest from PCs in homes
Cell phone internet access rates in Norway
% of population
Internet penetration is high in Norway at 90%, which is considerably higher than the European average of 60%. Daily Internet usage is also high with 72% of Norwegians going online once a day, whilst 86% are online monthly. Daily Internet usage is highest amongst 15-19 year olds (93.2%), although going online is a daily occurrence for many (86.2%) 20-39 year olds.
Cell phone ownership in Norway
% of population
Sony Ericsson 33%
Norwegian men are more likely than women to have used the Internet in the last 24 hours (77.6% vs. 66.6%) and this trend continues to monthly usage (89% vs. 83.2%). Whilst, there is a gender difference, both these figures are considerably above the European average and Norway, generally has a digitally inclusive society.
In Norway, the home is the most common (87%) place to access the Internet, whilst the workplace (54.7%) is also popular. In addition, 10% of Norwegians access the Internet on the move and 8.1% at school. The majority of Norwegians go online via a PC or laptop (90%), whilst mobile phones (10.9%) and smartphones (10%) are other popular devices.
Cell phone penetration is also very high in Norway at 96%, although smartphone ownership is not yet common and stands at 10.9%. The level of cell phone ownership is high across most age ranges and there is a clear trend towards handsets by Scandinavian company Nokia and Sony Ericsson.
- People based in Norwegian cities are more active online than those in rural areas
- 54.2% of the population based in cities use the internet daily to engage in social media
The 5 most popular social media destinations
Membership of social networking networks is common in Norway with 34% of Norwegian’s having a profile. Facebook is the most popular social network with 2,191,000 members – this figure represents 1% of all Facebook users worldwide. The vast majority of users are under 30 years old and Facebook is primarily used to keep in touch with friends and share video and photo content.
Nettby is the second most popular social networking site in Norway with over 800,000 users. This domestic social network is predominantly used by the 16-19 year old age group and is currently owned by VG Multimedia AS, a Norwegian news company. People do not submit their real names, instead they create usernames and people become part of communities linked by location to their nearest city, village or town. Biip is the third largest Norwegian social network with 433,254 members and is popular amongst people under 21 years old. It was recently sold to Norwegian news company Mediehuset Nettavisen and Danish publishing house Egmont for a reported $20 million.
Trials for an online voting program in Norway have been in development since August 2008, with a view to implementation at municipal elections in 2011.
It is hoped the E-vote 2011-project will establish a secure electronic voting solution for general, municipal and county council elections which shall provide better accessibility for all user groups to cast their votes. The initiative aims to increase voting rates and facilitate the exercise of direct democracy.
The Government is also engaging the public by setting up a blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts to debate the electronic voting system; relevant information will be published on the blog until the 2011 elections, welcoming voters to contribute opinions, tips or advice.
Professional network Linked In has a growing number of users (223,000). It has become an extremely popular tool to aid Norwegian networking and this number is expected to increase over the next 12 months. In addition, Origo is a burgeoning network with 146,546 users and it is used as a community for people to join various interest groups.
Blogging is a popular activity, in particular by people aged under 25 years old and Blogg, the largest Norwegian platform has 454,500 users. Microblogging platform Twitter has grown in popularity over the last 12 months and currently has 106,028 users, many of which are journalists, politicians and other opinion leaders.
Many immigrant groups have their own community page on Facebook and this is particularly popular amongst the younger age groups. In addition, a group of Norwegian Muslim students created an Islamic website that focused on demystifying Islam and the Muslim world. Another website the Islam Council is popular amongst the wiser community of Norwegian Muslims.
IV. Organizational Use
Norwegian companies are increasing their social media presence with Facebook and Twitter proving popular. Typically, companies are using these platforms to run campaigns and create a dialogue with consumers. Whilst usage is increasing, few businesses, at present measure or evaluate their social media activities – and many are reluctant to invest additional resources for these purposes. Whilst, many Norwegian businesses are using social media platforms, they are often lacking a strategic framework, with just 15% of businesses incorporating social media as part of a strategic communications plan.
At present there is a great opportunity for businesses to leverage the potential of social media as the majority of Norwegians have a positive perception of companies with an active online presence. In addition, the younger generation (15-29 year olds) think that companies involved in social media offer a more convenient and responsive service.
Government & Political parties
In keeping with most of Norwegian society, political parties and politicians are increasingly using social media as a communications tool. In addition, there are a large number of Norwegian politicians who are active on both Facebook and Twitter. The government appreciates the importance of a digitally inclusive society and has set an ambitious target of supplying broadband connectivity to the entire country.
The government has also taken an innovative approach to social media, utilizing several platforms as a consultation tool. A recent example is the samarbeid for arbeid website(Cooperation for work), a government initiative which sought opinions from the general public on a range of topics including ways to boost business development and tactics to reduce sick leave and high school drop rates.
The 5 most popular news/media websites
- VG Nett
Norwegian journalists and newspapers have increasingly started using social media to share news articles as they happen. In addition, there are a lot of journalists using both Facebook and Twitter as a way of publishing and promoting their own articles, as well as TV shows and debates.
There are instances of online groups creating offline events, a recent example being TweetUp, a networking community that organizes events in the largest cities in Norway, such as Oslo, Trondheim and Kristiansand. These events are growing in popularity and provide people with an opportunity to meet up, socialize and build relationships with other social media users.
The social media landscape within Norway is at a fairly advanced stage and many organizations have been quick to ensure they have an active online presence. For instance, NGOs such as the Red Cross, MSF, Plan Norway, Unicef Norway, Bellona Foundation and the Norwegian Center against Racism are active across a range of social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
V. Legal & Ethical
- Norway has a framework of laws in place governing the use of information about individual citizens by organizations to protect personal privacy
- Although no official framework exists, discussions have taken place about development of ethical frameworks around the use of social media and the regulation of digital content.
The largest Norwegian blog platform Blogg.no and a reputable Norwegian blogger recently initiated a set of guidelines for the blogosphere (#Bloggplakaten). The proposal was developed in close cooperation with the Consumer Ombudsman and the Market Council to meet the challenges faces by Norwegian bloggers. The first version of the guidelines were published in February 2010 and generated a lot of further debate online.
There are a variety of government organizations which may get involved with legal issues regarding digital content including the Consumer Ombudsman and the Market Council, Consumer Council, Data Inspectorate, Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway and the Norwegian Police Security Service. However, at present there is no organization that deals exclusively with digital regulation.
VI. Local factors affecting social media
- Norwegians use both Norwegian and English to communicate in social media
- People active on social media are open to communication from organizations, however, this must be done in an open and transparent manner
The Norwegian and English language are both used on social media platforms; however bloggers who want to reach a wider audience will often use English to increase viewership. Currently there are no official guidelines how to contact social media users in Norway. However, the Consumer Ombudsman has now invited people in the blogosphere to develop a code of conduct for approaching social media users.
Over the last 12 months a large number of Norwegian businesses have recognized that social media can be utilized for word of mouth marketing and that it increasingly has the ability to shape consumer perception and purchase intent. As a consequence, Norwegian bloggers are now frequently contacted by PR and marketing agencies. At present a large percentage of bloggers are open to being contacted by companies and organizations.
The Norwegian blogosphere embraces frank and open conversations. Being open, honest and transparent is considered very important and people place great value on honesty, as they would in real life. People are advised to respect others online and any behavior that is abusive, threatening, libelous, violates conversation or copyright is considered offensive and unacceptable.
VII. Principal data sources:
- Statistisk Sentralbyra- Befolkning (Statistics Norway): http://www.ssb.no
- Statistisk Sentralbyra – BiblioteksbesøkI (Statistics Norway): http://www.ssb.no
- Tekniskukeblad: http://www.tu.no
For USG Official Use Only
Related Material From the Archive:
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: France
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Belgium
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Romania
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Spain
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Italy
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Hungary
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Belarus
- (U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Latvia