Social Media Use Tips from Conference Coordinators
In our effort to bring readers tips on effective digital communication, we asked organizers of the SYNChronicityExit Disclaimer and Connected HealthExit Disclaimer conferences about the role of social media in their events.
What are your hopes for attendee use of social media at your conference?
Brian Hudjich (HealthHIV): HealthHIV and the National Coalition for LGBT Health would like participants to raise awareness about HIV, HCV, and LGBT health as discussed at SYNC2018 and encourage further discussion via social media. Social media discussions about topics presented at SYNC2018 can further help us identify real solutions to real problems.
Mary Sheridan (Personal Connected Health Alliance): In the 2017 Connected Health conference, we hoped to increase engagement by at least 10% with our tweets and we exceeded that with 15% overall. We used Facebook Live for the first time, streaming three important sessions to increase engagement for those onsite and those who could not be with us in person.
How do you include social media in your communications planning and conference operations?
Mary: We always have attendee engagement at the front of all communications. So that means on a basic level including the conference hashtag and handle on all correspondence. We always include speaker Twitter handles on all welcome slides for every session so attendees can engage quickly and effectively.
Terrence Calhoun (HealthHIV): Our combined platforms reach over 12,500 individuals. Posts are an easy way to promote the conference and generate buzz about topics that will be presented and what participants can anticipate learning.
What role do you see for your digital platforms in extending your content?
Mary: We are striving this year to engage more patient advocates as social media ambassadors onsite who will drive the patient and consumer point of view.
Terrence: We strive to encourage use of the #SYNC2018 hashtag and other relevant topics as they arise.
What tips do you have for digital communication related to conferences?
Mary: Visuals are key and will drive engagement with your tweets, so take pictures and post with every tweet.
Scott Brawley (HealthHIV): It helps to share lots of pictures. Photo posts get 35% more engagement than a stand-alone tweet. Videos are even better. A real pro will get the Twitter handles of people in a photo or video and tag them in the tweet to further its reach.
Mary: Instagram is growing; attendees can search a location or venue to find other attendees posting and network through direct messaging and comments. Snapchat can add fun with exclusive filters and frames promoted by the conference.
Scott: There are three audiences: 1) attendees, 2) people who wanted to attend, but could not, and 3) influencers who can help spread your messages. Most of the people you should try to reach couldn’t make the conference, so give them the experience of being there.
If you’re going to live-tweet presentations, sharing quotes and pictures of slides or data will help get information to people who couldn’t attend and will help you build relationships with the speakers you’re referencing. The same is true for live blogging, but live blogs are significantly more valuable. Live blogs are the closest to attending and provide the value of “being there.”
Scott: Take advantage of the educational atmosphere by asking questions of your social media audiences and don’t be afraid to challenge the speakers on social media. By asking a question, you’re more likely to get a speaker or influencer to respond and strike up a conversation. If the topic is not Twitter-friendly, has too many details, or requires bigger discussion, move it to Facebook or another platform.
Scott: Finally, never discount the power of a video after a conference. HealthHIV will likely post videos of important sessions on our website and YouTube channels. You can keep conversations going on social media by linking to a video and pointing out salient points and controversial ideas.
HIV.gov: If you’re organizing or attending an HIV-related event, we hope you both plan and evaluate your digital communication. For help on how to plan and measure the impact of your digital communication, schedule a Virtual Office Hours session with us. And if you’re attending SYNC, watch for details in the HIV.gov blog about visiting the social media lab for in-person training.