Samantha Murphy of the Mashable went to Iceland to cover the 2012 Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference. While there, she was able to visit President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson at his home and talk about how Iceland is using social media and technology to rebuild the nation.
At that visit, Grimsson told Murphy that Iceland is a society based on the principle that everyone is a friend until proven otherwise, which their 2011 marketing campaign, Inspired by Iceland, heavily promotes. The campaign use Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler to spread awareness about the nation and encourage citizens to take travelers on tours throughout the country. Much like how Grimsson invited Murphy into his home, he also invites tourists in for pancakes with whipped cream and rhubarb jam to share the Icelandic traditions.
Since the economic meltdown in 2008—when they opted not to bailout companies that were partly responsible for the crisis—Iceland has been undergoing resurgence and is working on reconstructing their constitution to move ahead. This is another area where social media has had an important role.
The government recently posted a proposal of the new constitution and asked citizens to post online comments and feedback about what they thought of it. And even though the president said he wouldn’t run for re-election this year—a position he has held for the past 16 years—he changed his mind after Icelanders gathered thousands of online signatures in effort to keep him in the office.
The active participation of both him and other citizens in the 2011 campaign is a proof that their message of how ‘everyone is a friend until otherwise proven’ worked out, Grimsson said, and it also shows that all of us can work together and spread awareness. Additionally, the promotion proved successful as Iceland experienced close to 20 percent increase of tourism without a huge cost.
Grimsson also spoke at the conference and said that technology is having a greater impact on politics in both small and large communities across the world. Changes can happen within just a few hours, while before that type of impact would take months to accomplish. Still, he notes that it is important to not become too fascinated by technologies and communicating with people digitally as it lessens the personal encounters.
(Image courtesy: istockphoto)