social media | October 27, 2011

Alex Samuel: How Companies and Governments Cope with Social Media

Social media speaker Alexandra Samuel has an insightful new video about how to cope with social media overload—a new phenomenon people are experiencing at work and even at home. In the short and snappy clip, Samuel, head of Emily Carr’s Social + Interactive Media Centre, also addresses the intersection of social media and government, discussing how the public sector can leverage new tools to embrace the changing face of popular engagement and interaction. A final section looks at the impact social media can have on think tanks.

Here are some highlights from Alexandra Samuel’s video:

Dealing with social media overload:

It's a pain a lot of people out there are feeling now, and it's not going to go away. You're not going to win the war on social media. What you can do is make a decision about what you're trying to accomplish in your work, research, publishing and social life. And choose the tools and activities that support your goals. And just put on blinders and ignore the tools other people are telling you to join. You don't have to be on Twitter; you don't have to be on Facebook. What you have to do is the thing that supports your work.

Government and Social Media:

I have been quite disappointed that seven to eight years into the social media revolution governments have been the last ones to the party. The main reason [for this failure], the folks who drove social media were risk takers and entrepreneurs and have gone on to more prominent roles [in non-profits and private sectors]. The non-profit and public sector rewards risk takers, but government doesn't attract risk takers. The risks of social media—those risks are more terrifying to government. Government alone has been reluctant to stick its neck out and as a result has been marginalized online and perhaps offline.

How think tanks should approach social media:

The opportunity and requirement for think tanks is to learn to communicate faster and learn to communicate complex ideas in more compact ways. If you look at Twitter, some of the most popular things to share and reshare are infographics. I would argue that a single brilliant infographic on an issue is far more powerful than a 30 page white paper. The think tanks that can create that content and support citizen engagement with high level informed thinking, rather than just trying to go to elected officials, those are the think tanks that will have the biggest impact because they're actually going to be supporting and empowering this public conversation rather than competing with it for government attention.

An articulate voice on new social technologies, Alexandra Samuel has an infectious passion for the internet's potential as a tool for community-building and civic participation. She has mapped the effect of technology for both the non-profit sector as well as with governments.

Up Next

taking a stand | October 26, 2011