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Social media first: An American comedian takes on the President of Egypt

Today, US-based comedian and host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, had a war of words with the President of Egypt on Twitter. Think about that for a just a minute. Social media has now become a channel for international debate involving not the citizens, but their leaders.

This was inconceivable just a few years ago and shows the remarkable accountability and transparency social media brings. For those critical of social media as a fad or something for teens or the socially stilted, think again. this is a new level of impact.

A little of the story

For a little of the back story, Egyptian President Mohamamed Morsi rose to power after the Arab Spring forced out dictator Hosni Mubarak and free elections were called. At issue is The US Embassy in Cairo posting a link to a Jon Stewart video (see below) strongly critical of the arrest of Bassem Youssef, a TV show host that bears some resemblance to Jon Stewart’s own biting style.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 6.23.30 PMAfter a war of words involving Stewart himself, the Egyptian Presidency’s Twitter account removed their tweet. Without even a claim of having their account hacked (the classic celebrity excuse). Of course, screen caps of the deleted posts are readily available.

This spotlights the power of social media to bring engagement and transparency to the highest levels of power structures. The value is no different in the power corridors of corporations. Transparency and engagement are the new black.

A prediction

Just like the political structures of the world, the power structures of the corporate world aren’t ready yet for this level of transparency, but it is fast approaching. As social media spreads and moves beyond its current beachhead, there will be far more engagement and transparency around how companies operate and the decisions they make. Just like the Egyptian Presidency, there will be public missteps that have to be rolled back.

The only way to get ready for this new world is to jump in feet first and get used to the way social media operates. Only the social media sophisticated can understand how the medium works and how to best use it to put out messages, engage and respond.

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