Monday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke visited our campus to speak and answer questions, hosted by the Ford School of Public Policy. While it was a full house, our attention was turned online. Using the hashtag #fordschoolbernanke, people were invited to tweet questions and follow along with the conversation. The event was also livestreamed through the Ford School’s website.
Chairman Bernanke addressed many issues, from the fiscal cliff, to the debt ceiling and trillion dollar coin. Taking audience and online questions, he brought an insightful and voice to the conversation, with refreshingly lighthearted jokes.
We found it particularly interesting at how many students, community members, and even those outside of Ann Arbor were following along online. In 24 hours, the hashtag #fordschoolbernanke was used 1400 times (and this only includes from 2pm Monday-2pm Tuesday). Unsurprisingly, most of the tweets were original tweets (not ReTweets or mentions). Here are a few samples of how people were interacting:
Bernanke also made mention to the importance of social media, joking that a question asked over Twitter appeared to be “over 140 characters” (it was). He also stated that in the past, he would simply read blogs, and several industry players have their own blogs, as an important intellectual exchange. Now, “the internet makes professional papers available immediately. With a shorter perspective, people can get more information, it’s [social media] the next natural step. Social media provides a convenient way to communicate quickly, exchange ideas and find out what’s going on.”
We couldn’t agree more! The Federal Reserve is on both Twitter and Facebook, which aides to humanize the institution. While we’re sure they don’t take hashtagged questions often, events like #FordSchoolBernanke leave us excited for the future of social media in public policy.