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Digital authority: back to the future?

Is the time of new Facebook friends over? Is the role of social media in the Arab revolutions just the end of an era? Yes, according to a digital media guru that was this week in Brussels. Social media are far from dying, but they are changing their skin. Are we ready for the mutation?

From democratization to accreditation

The Oxford Word of the Year 2009 was “unfriend”. According to Edelman‘s media guru Steve Rubel, that was this week in Brussels at the Centre, this word marks the passage from the “democratization” of the internet to the “accreditation” era.

Social media in the Arab revolutions: something from the past?!

People don’t know how to survive in the jungle of information online, and they are turning to experts and specialists to guide them. If in 2006 the main source of trust was “people like me, my peer”, in 2010 academic, experts, CEOS, NGOs and government representatives gained positions.

Five ingredients for success

This is far from being the end of social media, but it means that to be credible and influential you need a fair dose of “digital authority” on traditional as well as “tradigital“, owned and social media. How can organisations like ours can achieve this? Rubel proposes his 5 ingredients for success:

1. Elevate the experts: identify the credible voices in your organisation and motivate them to enter the dialogue with the public.

2. Curate the content. “This is the age of the digital curator: those who can separate art from junk”. Only way to make content relevant: order, structure, connect, contextualise.

3. Use visualizations and infographics, as this is today’s language.

4. Put stuff where people can find it. Even the most boring documents can find some readers if placed on the right hubs.

5. Ask and answer. As social media become more and part of the media landscape, better to have 100 people using them at 1% rather than one person at 100%.

Where do we stand?

The very inspiring conference made me think that we, “the European Parliament” , are not that bad on the way of the new “accreditation era”, even if we shouldn’t forget that the “democratisation” is not completed yet. We shouldn’t take it for granted, as we are not Obama, Europe is not the US, and we still encounter much resistance to the idea of giving voice to the people. We shouldn’t forget, either, that, just around the corner, in the Middle East, there are people who die and are condemned to death for taking the floor.

Nonetheless, I think we have a certain digital authority thanks to those that Steve (Clark, OUR guru) calls the mix of “old” values (credibility, objectivity, neutrality, accuracy) and “new” ones (listen, debate, be open to admit your mistakes, don’t take yourself too seriously).

While a lot of people around us struggle to achieve a digital credibility, I think that we have some good ground to build on, at least on social media.

But another idea that emerged in the conference is that social media cannot make it all. They are part of a media mix that will continue to exist. If we are not too bad on social media, are we good enough on the rest? One of the biggest challenges is, in my view, is the new EP website we are working on. We should all become digital curators instead of editors or press officers. We should produce more infographics and visual content and less articles. We should distribute the content produced by the EP on the platforms where it is relevant. And we should integrate social media as a part of our daily work.

We know the lesson by heart. Are we ready to pass to action?


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