VIDEO: Civic minded technologists gather to discuss social media and public policy at Social Media Week

Computer data

This week in locations throughout the US including New York City and Washington DC, technologists, citizens, business and policy leaders gathered for Social Media Week. Social Media Week offers event goers panels about how social media is playing a role in business, politics, and society. One notable panel, Public Policy & Social Innovation happened today at Bloomberg LP. The panel included Mark Drapeau, Ph.D. – Director of Innovative Engagement (Public Sector), Microsoft; Matt Segneri—Team Lead, Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, and Pat Fiorenza – Senior Research Analyst, GovLoop.

The panel looked at a number of city initiatives happening through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, a municipal innovation challenge currently underway which will give intrepid cities and their Mayors millions of dollars in prize money and mentoring for innovations in civic life through technology. 20 finalists have been announced from over 100 entries and from that winners will be chosen in March. The challenge has created a video which highlights what’s happened so far and who some of the players are, watch it below.

Panelists discussed the impact of social media on public policy both as a tool to raise awareness, but also as a means of effecting policy. Social media has been a hot topic for government offices at all levels, as public officials try to find ways ways to navigate this new landscape. Private sector companies are also working through engagement on social media with customers while maintaining their brand.

“Frankly, Microsoft and other companies could be doing a lot more sophisticated things in social media I think. Just because you’re in the tech industry doesn’t mean you’ve somehow mastered social media and other companies haven’t,” Drapeau said of these efforts.

On the public sector side, Segneri underscored the need for follow up beyond social media interactions when it comes to public service. “More than just sharing, at least on the public sector there is more to these conversations than just sharing out…Folks need to feel like this is a real dialogue and that their points of view are being solicited and heard but are also are being acted upon. {…} In a lot of cases this requires work offline.” He also noted the critical need for government responsiveness both through social media and offline follow up to be baked into the culture of government service delivery going forward.

Watch the full panel here: