SMC Europe: The state of social media in the Netherlands #SMCeu

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As a continuation of our Social Media Club Europe series, today our focus shifts to the Netherlands, where an incredible 89.2% of the population has Internet access. Contrasted with Europe as a whole, where 49.9% of the population can access the web, this number is extremely high. Such widespread online participation has facilitated rapid growth of social media,netherlands hours online including international networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and “local” networks like the Dutch social network Hyves. In fact, the Netherlands recently gained the title of #1 Country in both Twitter and LinkedIn penetration as a percent of the Internet population. In addition to this high rate of participation, the Netherlands also claims the #1 ranking in the percentage of their time each user spends online.

Two Spotlight Chapters

While only 18 months ago, Erno Hannink and a team of four were conducting their first SMC meeting in Amsterdam, there are now over a dozen SMC chapters in Holland. Ms. Hannink and Ms. Nathalie Soeteman graciously provided information on their chapters that helped augment our understanding of social media in the Netherlands.

The Amsterdam branch of SMC has grown into an extremely active chapter, with over 400 members who help in the planning of various events. These events are held on a monthly basis and focus on topics such as TV and social media, monitoring in social media, and companies that use social media (think Paypal, KLM, Hyves). The chapter has hosted many speakers including marketing strategist and author of the #1 bestseller “The New Rules of Marketing & PR”, David Meerman Scott. In order to increase the participation in each conference, there is a 60-person attendance limit; they have found this strategy to be effective in facilitating a mutually beneficial experience between the speakers and the audience.

USMC Amsterdam tweetstreettrecht has another very active chapter of SMC in the Netherlands. This branch was founded in December of 2009 by Nathalie Soeteman, Mark de Bruin, Joost Geurtsen and Froukje Heres, with several additions to the team since then. Recently, SMC Utrecht hosted two successful events. The first event featured the social media marketing success story of the famous Dutch Hip-hop Orchestra, Kyteman, led by Colin Lenders, who was recently recognized with the esteemed ‘Popprijs 2009’ award. The second event hosted current parliament member Arjan El Fassed, who is Holland’s most popular tweeter, with over 300,000 followers. In explaining how he accumulated so many followers, Arjan told the audience of when he bought a street in a Palestinian refugee camp and chose “@ arjanelfassed tweetstreet” as it’s name, and the subsequent publicity he received.  The Utrecht chapter is looking forward to their meeting on June 16, when members will discuss their “Social Media Mistakes and Worst Practices”.

Social media summit in Amsterdam

As is the case around the world, the emergence and development of new technology over the past two decades, as well as widespread Internet access, has facilitated dramatic social change in the Netherlands. Here, one of the major contributors to this progression is Digital Pioneers, a non-profit organization that “aims to identify and develop a network of young creative entrepreneurs…via international mentorship, overseas work placements, and industry-specific capacity building activities and peer exchanges”. Since 2002, DP has supported over 200 projects in the Netherlands, providing them with guidance and financial aid. Over the past decade, DP has witnessed the growth of social media and its impact in the Netherlands and around the globe.

The evolution of the digital public domain into a standard method of communication and platform of information inspired Digital Pioneers to host a two-day summit in Amsterdam last October, where social media entrepreneurs would “investigate the impact of small-scale Internet organizations on society” and “reflect on how such organizations change the old media landscape of commercial and public service media”. And that is just what they did.

In addition to discussing the accomplishments of DP, attendees of the summit considered the challenges that are faced by social media initiatives in the Netherlands. The first challenge that is cited in the “State of Social Media” report that was published as a product of the summit is the issue of “open governance”. While parties on both sides of this issue, the pioneers and the government, are aware of the necessity of cooperation, there are many barriers that inhibit its headway. For example, the pace of pioneers greatly exceeds that of governmental organizations, and there are often regulations that stand in their way. Additionally, many of the pioneers have limited knowledge of the networks of the governmental institutions, while many officials lack the technical skills that would allow them to execute social media initiatives.

Other issues discussed at the summit include challenges for arts and culture, challenges for initiatives addressing immigration and integration, and challenges for civil society journalism.


The Netherlands is an exciting place to be right now for those participating in the world of social media. This plugged-in population is a laboratory for online developments, and will be a key location for watching the evolution of social media.

For more information on SMC Amsterdam, visit their homepage.

Information gathered from

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