Social Media Democracy in Iceland

Tue 20 March 2012 10:00, Vitto Christaldi

Social Media Democracy in Iceland

Iceland has been using social media effectively after the big economic crisis a couple of years ago. In that snowy island country, social media is playing a big role; not only as a marketing tool to promote tourism, but also to help the government reconstruct the country’s constitution!

In 2008, Iceland experienced an economic meltdown and a political crisis. As a result, we all know that three major banks in Iceland collapsed; which was referred by the Economist as “The largest suffered by any country in economic history”. However, now, under the leadership of Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the country is starting to step by step rise from the adversity.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, we realized that this wasn’t just an economic or a financial crisis; it was also a social, political and judicial crisis. If we were going to allow the nation to regain its strength and position, it wouldn’t be sufficient to deal with it in traditional economic and financial ways. We needed a different democratic approach”, said Icelandic President Grimsson in the interview by Mashable

In 2010, the country launched their tourism campaign called “Inspired by Iceland", in cooperation with Icelandair, Iceland Express, and the government of the capital city, Reykjavik. By logging on to InspiredbyIceland.com, tourists can sign up for free tours, meet local residents and, of course, even visit the president’s house. The goal of the campaign is to encourage travelers to visit the country and raise awareness about the country which is known as “The Land of Ice and Fire”. InspiredbyIceland also uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and even Tumblr (FYI, the Tumblr is called “Icelandwantstobeyourfriend”! haha). Additionally, the campaign was a big success: tourism increased about 20% in 2011!

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Next to tourism, recently Iceland also asked its citizens to post their ideas and feedback on social media to re-write the country’s constitution. Believe me, there is nowhere in this world a country has ever done such things! Incredible! Through social media, the citizens of Iceland also succesfully convinced President Grimsson to run for another election, after 16 years of being the leader of Iceland! Wow, the Icelanders must love him so much that they never want to let him go!

Indeed, the low country population and small size of the island allowed this “social media democracy” idea to happen. I personally think this idea will never work in big countries like USA; or can it?


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