How to Up Your Conference Game with Social Media

Can medtech companies live tweet? All will be revealed in this series of articles on social media for healthcare conferences.

The 5 D’s of Conference Social Prep

To paraphrase a cardiologist who recently spoke at (where else?) a conference, social media for healthcare is not an outlier situation anymore. It’s happening, folks. People are talking about your brand. Could be good, could be bad, but either way it’s wise to get in the game. And live events like conferences are the Twitter Super Bowl. Thousands of tweets and millions of impressions are generated at conferences, and you can either be a part of it, or you can sit on the sideline (I recommend being a part of it!). But as with anything, if you’re going to do something, do it right. Having recently returned from one of the largest cardiology conferences in the country, it seems timely to discuss best practices for social media at conferences. Over the next weeks, I’ll be outlining four steps to make the most out of the conference experience from a social media perspective. And the first, and perhaps most important step, takes place months before you hit the conference floor.

Best Practice#1: Prepare, prepare, prepare!

  • Develop a plan – Social media requires as much strategy as any other communications tactic, and not giving serious thought to what you hope to accomplish and laying out a plan to achieve it will likely lead to mediocre results. Not only are conferences a great time to raise awareness of your brand, they are an amazing opportunity to create content that can be used later. Many of your current customers, potential customers, distributors, and KOLs in one place at one time is not a common occurrence, and should be capitalized upon. Planning ensures you’ll get high quality content and maximize every opportunity you have with your target audience.
  • Design your booth– In many cases, booth design begins months in advance. And while social media isn’t the primary objective of a conference, there are some fairly easy ways to incorporate it into what you’ll be doing anyway. Large graphics with branding and messaging can provide a great backdrop for photos and videos. Adding the logos for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. (and even your company handles) to your booth graphics will let visitors know you have a social media presence. And it never hurts to have a conversation piece at your booth pertaining to your product or company that people might want to photograph. A large cut-out, 3D model, or even a giveaway item will draw attention to your booth and prompt visitors to take photos with your branding included.
  • Define a process – When it comes to live events, it’s crucial to lay out the process and assign roles for who is drafting posts, who needs to approve them, and who is actually posting. Working these details out ahead of time ensures no one is duplicating efforts or posting the wrong things, and that opportunities are not missed.
  • Draft posts ahead of time – Most conference organizers do a decent job of outlining the sessions, activities and social events online well before the event begins. Using those details and the specific agenda of the company, it should be fairly straightforward to craft some template posts ahead of time that can be pre-approved by leadership and any regulatory or legal departments. The posts can be as simple as inviting attendees to the booth, or placeholders for photos that are likely to be taken, such as a badge or team photo. With pre-approved posts, at the very least you’ll have some activity if it gets too busy or complicated to post on-site. Another advantage of scoping out the agenda ahead of time is the ability to plan for “extras” such as social events or even social media events, like a “tweet up.”
  • Designate a point person – Typically at conferences, everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It’s a really good idea to assign the job of social media to someone ahead of time and allocate resources accordingly. Ideally this person is experienced with social media and can spend a good amount of their time taking photos, crafting ad hoc posts and actively looking for opportunities to engage.

Of course, it’s possible to just dive right in the day of the conference, but you’re probably taking your life into your own hands with your legal and regulatory department. And it just won’t be as cool! When in doubt, fall back upon the sage wisdom of Ben Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” And being prepared is the only way to successfully implement the next three best practices. Stay tuned!

 — Nichole Rozendaal

 

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