Sweden-ing Up Social Media

One learning objective we were interested in through the course of this trip was how our social media was going to change as we moved from the United States to Scandinavia. Using geolocation and location-based data, social media platforms tailor their user experiences to what the user may be interested in, or promote local businesses in the country or region. These user experiences can also be tailored through cookies on websites that users visit. Upon landing in Stockholm, we were able to see the change instantly in advertisements on various social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. 

A change we immediately noticed was that the various advertisements and promotions being shown were in Swedish, rather than English. These Swedish advertisements promoted businesses local to Sweden, such as Lindex and Wolt Delivery. Whether we were scrolling on Instagram or watching a video on YouTube, we ran into advertisements that were in Swedish and promoted shops and services that we could access during our time in Sweden. However, major global brands, such as Samsung and H&M, also ran advertisements that we saw in Swedish, even though they were promoting the same products, and provided English ads, in the United States. Due to the location change, and utilizing geolocation and location-based data, our advertisements quickly adjusted, tailoring our ads to expose us to local businesses. It was interesting to see how rapidly our ads changed, as we were able to learn about shops and services before we saw them while we were walking through the city. Although most of the advertisements were in Swedish, there were a portion of ads that promoted Swedish businesses, but with English text, rather than Swedish text. It would be interesting to see if Swedish locals receive advertisements in English from time to time, as most Swedes are able to speak English. According to Study in Sweden, Sweden ranked 2nd out of 80 countries in the EF English Proficiency Index in 2017 (Andrés, 2018). This would lead us to believe that Swedish locals would most likely have occasional advertisements in English, with no consequence to businesses due to the high volume of English-speakers.

Another note we found interesting was the amount of cookies we had to accept while in Sweden. When visiting websites, whether in Sweden or in the US, domains utilize cookies to collect data and identify computers or devices that are visiting their website. In visiting the new country, especially a country that none of us have previously visited, we were approached by cookies on every website we visited. This is due to the fact that our data was new to the servers in Sweden. We were even required to accept cookies on domains we have visited in the United States due to our data not being available on the new servers. 

Social media has grown a significant amount over the past few decades, and with the rise of digital marketing and location-based data, companies have taken advantage of geolocation marketing to expand their reach to tourists and foreign visitors. Although we did not understand most of the advertisements we saw on our social media feeds, we were able to recognize some of the brands being shown throughout our time in Sweden!


Andrés. (2018, March 26). People in Sweden speak excellent English. Study in Sweden. Retrieved from https://studyinsweden.se/blogs/2018/03/26/people-in-sweden-speak-excellent-english/