Reflections on the national #hcsmca tweetup in Vancouver

hcsmca inside, turn left

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.

Other observations:

  • 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!

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11 thoughts on “Reflections on the national #hcsmca tweetup in Vancouver

  1. Hi Daniel, I didn’t really make any progress with the question of “how to reach practitioners via social media.” But a small group of us did come to the conclusion that it would be great to attract some practitioners to the next tweet up and ask them about why they’re online and how we can reach their colleagues. I’m going to work on this…

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    1. Great idea, Robyn. I agree there were a lot of communicators and researchers in our room last night, and it would sure be nice to get some more practitioners, med students, etc involved in the discussion as well.

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      1. It’s important that we reach out to under-represented groups as a whole. If we can do this locally, it will benefit all of #hcsmca. Perhaps we should first identify who participates in #hcsmca and ask these ambassadors to reach out to colleagues in other parts of the country.
        I’ll work on this and keep you posted.

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  2. Daniel: Always great to read your thoughts. Thanks for writing this post.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the online vs IRL (in real life) aspects of social media work and have decided that a big part of any social media strategy really needs to be about getting out to meet your peers in situations like last night’s pan-Canadian tweet-up in Vancouver.

    I am lucky to travel and speak on social media for CIHC in Toronto and elsewhere and to have dedicated colleagues across Canada to work with.

    Meeting people and discussing challenges and successes and just hearing their stories is crucial to all of our growth.

    I look forward to seeing everyone at the next one and to our masterful Northern Voice panel discussion!

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    1. Yes! I’ve found the same thing. Bonds made on Twitter and elsewhere
      online are really strengthened by meeting in person. I’m a little
      conflicted about this to be honest, thinking, since we spend so much
      time advocating for it, shouldn’t social media be enough?

      But on the other hand, all media have strengths and weaknesses, and I
      like your idea of integrating in person meeting directly into a social
      media strategy, and acknowledging the power of face to face contact.
      Plus it’s always fun to compare people’s real faces to their online
      avatars…

      Let’s chat soon about Northern Voice!

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      1. Dan, I don’t fit on the fence about this one at all (and I often sit on the fence). I think social media is merely another avenue to connecting. It’s not the latest greatest, but rather the latest addition to our communication tool set. I see social media as a vehicle to facilitating and sustaining in person meetings and providing an great alternate when face-to-face is not possible.

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      2. All of this is true, Colleen, but I would submit that the ubiquity of social media access and the increased openness of groups using these tools actually transcends previous communications tools.

        The tools may change over time but there’s a new openness, access and enthusiasm that social media channels provide.

        This is profoundly changing. It will deeply affect how health care organizations operate and communicate internally and with the rest of the world.

        The ability to cultivate relationships that simply would never have existed in the past due to any number of reasons is important and is compounded by the opportunities to meet in person and already have a history of communications, reference points and related experiences. Even if they are digital.

        Anyway, I look forward to continuing this conversation with you when I’m in Toronto for the NaHSSA conference.

        See you in a few weeks.

        S

        Like

    2. Yes! I’ve found the same thing. Bonds made on Twitter and elsewhere
      online are really strengthened by meeting in person. I’m a little
      conflicted about this to be honest, thinking, since we spend so much
      time advocating for it, shouldn’t social media be enough?

      But on the other hand, all media have strengths and weaknesses, and I
      like your idea of integrating in person meeting directly into a social
      media strategy, and acknowledging the power of face to face contact.
      Plus it’s always fun to compare people’s real faces to their online
      avatars…

      Let’s chat soon about Northern Voice!

      Like

  3. Great that you were at the tweetup, Daniel. What’s missing for me in this writeup is some disciplinary context given what you are doing at ehealth. It wouldn’t hurt for you to promote librarians or libraries somehow.

    Like

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