Category Archives: Case Studies

One small decision by Iceland, One big social change

Photo on Flickr by Moyan Brenn used under Creative Commons License

Photo on Flickr by Moyan Brenn used under Creative Commons License

So this week in class we have been looking at how Government can use social media to be more open and transparent, and how they can restore participation in social, civic, political and economic intuitions. For those of you interested in the theory check out this mouthful “From Bowling Alone to Tweeting Together: Technology-Mediated Social Participation” by Hochheiser and Shneiderman – $10 if you can pronounce their last names!

Anyway, essentially the article looks at Government 2.0, which is really just a fancy way of saying ‘as a Government, we are going to try and connect better with the people through social platforms’. Think Obama’s 08 or Kevin’s 07 social political campaigns. Both campaigns developed simple and basic messages to get the people involved – Obama’s campaign simply asked Americans to enroll to vote, and Kevin 07 made politicians approachable – made himself one of the masses – read more about his campaign here.
There have been countless studies looking at how Government’s can make friends with new media, why and the results of doing so. Check these out,,

But one of the best examples of Government actually doing so is in Iceland – now if you’re anything like me the only thing you know about Iceland is that in Mighty Ducks 2, the ducks faced off against the Iceland team in the Junior Goodwill games and won. In 2008, after the banking crisis where billions of dollars were lost in collapsed Icelandic banks, the Government drafted a new constitution in an attempt to change the political atmosphere in their despondent nation. But, the Government used social media to get the opinions of their citizens. They asked them to share their ideas as to what the new constitution should contain.

The Iceland council posted draft clauses for the constitution on its website every week. The public had the ability to comment or join in with discussion on the council’s Facebook page.
The council also established a Twitter account, a YouTube page which posted interviews with its members and a Flickr account containing pictures of the council members at work. Meetings of the council were open to the public and live streamed on the web and to their Facebook page.

The result from the locals was overwhelming – Iceland developed a constitution truly written by the people. Thorvaldur Gylfason, a member of Iceland’s constitutional council told The Guardian that the public saw the constitution come into being before their eyes. “This is very different from old times where constitution makers sometimes found it better to find themselves a remote spot out of sight, out of touch,” he said.

So what has the Iceland Government taught us? They have taught us that with consistently using the right social media tools and messages, Governments can engage people actively in what they do.
Social Girl

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Welcome to the social world

Social media - Daniel E Lee

So I decided to go back to University – crazy idea I know – and as part of my course I am required to write a blog which looks at social media, both my personal and professional experience, and how it can be utilised to effectively communicate messages. Snore – I know but bare with me!

So let’s start with the basics – what is social media? Isn’t it just another medium for connecting with others who have similar interests? An opportunity to know that hey you’re not the only other person on the planet who hates bananas and can’t ride a push bike. If you’re wondering yes I do hate bananas, and no I can’t ride a push bike not for lack of trying…

When I googled social media the Wikipedia page said that we have been communicating with others socially for thousands of years referring to cave paintings as one of the original forms of social media – a way to relate/ connect with a large group who have similar interests without directly speaking – today it is more understood to be a method of communicating with others electronically via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest to name a few, as well as communicating via chat forums, blogs and a variety of other mediums.

So what is my experience with social media? the same as most – I Facebook, tweet, pin pics to Pinterest watch cat videos on YouTube and follow several blogs – even started my own a few years ago only to give up on it once my husband found out about it and couldn’t stop laughing at its name…. nope don’t ask I’m not sharing that one.

Professionally I work in communications for a health association and we use Twitter and Facebook, have a website which allows members to post forum topics and hold discussions and allow the general public to have a say on anything we upload. We just started our own TV studio – as we all know video is the way of the future or so the stats tell us – so I am now the producer, director, cameraman and video editor as well as the resident photographer. It has been an interesting experience to say the least.

So the million dollar question is why are we on social media? Personally I use Facebook to keep up to date with all my friends – some of them I see quite regularly while others I might not see for a few months and I like feeling like I am a part of their lives even if we only converse over the web. I use Twitter to keep up to date with all my favourite authors and latest movie releases – I also follow politicians and current news and affairs programs. I use Pinterest to catalogue everything that I would have previously bookmarked – recipes, house designs, beauty tips and art and fashion designs.

Professionally I see social media as another avenue to communicate. It is just an additional communication medium – similar to issuing a media release or holding a doorstop. The benefit of using social media opposed to traditional communication mediums is receiving immediate feedback.  We have four Twitter accounts all for different purposes – one is follows the movements of our President, one is used to inform media of our activities, one is used to talk to health professionals and one is used to speak to a select group of health professionals. Our Facebook page is used to communicate with health professionals about our activities. As mentioned, we have just started producing videos which we upload to YouTube – these are usually one to two minute grabs of one of our spokespeople talking about topical health issues. We have been using social media as an organisation for a few years and originally started utilise the various tool after members claimed we didn’t inform them enough of our activities. One of the biggest hurdles we have had is informing people that we are now using different social media tools – we are steadily increasing awareness of our participation on these sites. We are now trying to develop great content that reflect what our audience wants to know.

So back to the blog… defines a blog as a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions etc., and often contains images and links to other websites. So who am I and what are my opnions… At the age of five on my first day of kindergarten I became best friends with a boy in my class because I asked him two very important questions and we happened to agree on the answers so here goes… Do you like bananas? And do you like rocks??? If you answered no for the first and yes to the second you are my new BFF … No seriously… I was a strange child! My favourite foods were stinky cheese (blue-vein cheese) and red onion bread. I honestly believed everything tasted better with tomato sauce and that beetroot was made by the Gods… now I can’t stand either. I loved books – still do and wrote my own stories constantly – mainly about unicorns.

Now  days I am a too close to 30 female that believes in changing her hair colour with the seasons and loves to watch tacky action movies – Mission Impossible, Fast and the Furious – you get my drift… ha… get it drift. I love to read young adult fiction – so shameful I know, and constantly design my future house by spending hours trying to find the perfect wallpaper to match my latest colour scheme. I am a mad art fanatic – I went to New York recently and was shamefully close to tears by getting up close and personal with a few Picasso’s, Monet’s and Van Gogh’s. I am an environmentalist at heart – I developed a ‘go green’ program when I was 10 for my school. I am also obsessed with the latest fashion trends and change my shoes seasonally! I married my high school sweetheart – yep we are that lovey dovey annoying couple that you all love to hate and have been married for five years in October with no kids and none planned for anytime soon.

So although I had to start this blog to talk about social media and how it impacts both organisations and people generally I will do so in relation to my own personal thoughts and beliefs – for what is social media without a social connection.

To end here is a video of a cat doing something on YouTube because you can nenver get enough of other peoples cats doing crazy stuff!!

Xoxo – social girl

Photo on Flickr by Daniel E Lee used under Creative Commons License

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