We had a great turnout last night for the first-ever pan-Canadian #hcsmca tweetup. Conversation was buzzing across the country from Halifax to Victoria and several other cities in between. I was lucky enough to be part of the Vancouver meetup along with 23 other people (I counted sometime around 7pm PST). The following are some of my reflections about the night that came to me in an inspired fit when I woke up this morning.
Social Media Takeaways:
- Major conversation threads included how best to target health professionals using social media (I’d be curious to hear from @robynsussel if her group came up with some solutions to this problem) and strategies for convincing management that social media is worthwhile (success stories, demonstrations, champions, external people).
- Most organizations actually have someone designated as their online community/communications person. This is a big step forward from even last year, which is reflected in the fact that many of these communicators are new in their positions. We are all still “learning by doing” which is great, and also a lot of fun!
- Excellent anecdote: box of condoms refilled at a downtown bar via Twitter. I know sometimes old tweets are hard to find, but if someone could dig this up it would be great
- @CIHC_ca is run on a distributed model. Around seven(?) volunteers have access to the social media platforms for CIHC, and all can tweet or blog. I didn’t know this was how it worked, but it is such a great case study for how to not only spread the work around, but also how to engage your community closely.
- @Michael_YouthCo and I talked around the balance of personal-professional. This is a perennial topic at social media events, I find, and it is embodied in his Twitter handle (name and organization in one). His experience is that the younger community YouthCo targets won’t bother if you are not completely yourself at all times, so YouthCo social media folks blend their personal/professional roles heavily on Twitter at all times. Right now, my impression is this is not the norm across many organizations, but I think it’s where we’re headed more and more everyday. The problem for organizations doing this is you need incredibly dedicated people who are willing to sacrifice some of their “personal” space online. Clearly, this is not YouthCo’s problem, and they are lucky to have the dedicated staffers that they do.
- The HIV research and non-profit community showed up big. Great to see them proportionally represented at the meetup, since HIV is such an important research focus in Vancouver and BC.
- Some HIV organizations have recently taken up the idea of changing their names if they include ‘AIDS’. Treatments have become so effective in recent years, that many patients do not progress into AIDS, so the orgs are trying to connect with their populations understanding that most are living with HIV, rather than AIDS.
- Additionally, HIV orgs have by and large been very successful in reducing the stigma of living with HIV. So much so, that at least a couple attendees last night working in mental health are hoping to replicate that success for their populations living with a mental health issue. This is a really needed push, and I hope they made some connections last night that will help inform their practice moving forward.
For next time:
- Many people mentioned using different platforms for different populations. The talk was very Twitter-focused, though, and I would be interested in branching a bit if we want to talk about other social media platforms and the success/challenges there
- Everyone agreed that we should meet again, and perhaps have some people involved get up to speak about their organization in a little more organized fashion. This sparked the idea that we could have a pecha kucha night with several different people giving short talks and then mingling afterward. I, for one, am very excited about this.
I really can’t put into words how great it is to have this community of people online and now in-person as well. We are truly building a community of practice not only in Vancouver, but across the country, and I am very impressed and happy with how social media has made this possible. We owe thanks to Colleen for fostering #hcsmca into a reality, and for dreaming up this crazy idea of a national meeting night. I can’t wait for the next one!