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On Monday we introduced the Iceland Wants to be Your Friend campaign, a fun, personalized use of social media in tourism. But to president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, social media is just the modern way of carrying on the Icelandic tradition of public consultation and participation, which has been the recognized way of governing since the time of the Vikings. And the president isn’t just paying lip-service to a modern reality: when a new constitution was tabled this year, citizens were invited to post online comments and feedback about on proposed amendments.
Grímsson personally participated in 2011’s Inspired by Iceland campaign, welcoming tourists into his home and serving them pancakes with whipped cream and jam. While some people think he’s crazy to take that kind of risk, he feels that building trust and relationships with his people is the most important part of his job. That kind of accessibility and transparency is beautifully echoed in the Iceland Wants to be Your Friend campaign - because in Iceland, everyone is a friend until proven otherwise.