Running up against a social media brick wall: Learning how to get to “yes” when policy says “no”

How social media teams can advocate for and implement best practices in social media engagement at conferences

no-photo-redIt’s jarring. Those “no photo” signs and the accompanying requests from a verified account to remove a tweet with a photo. Especially in 2017. I think for many on Twitter it’s hard to imagine how things got there. How could an organization not welcome Twitter activity at its meeting? After working in this space, I think I can offer some insights. And some advice for social media teams working through the tangled web that often exists around social media at conferences.

My first piece of advice is to find an evangelist. Or be an evangelist. If you don’t understand the channel, the power of the channel, and the nuances of sharing at meetings, you will be unsuccessful in winning over anyone you might need to win over. Do your homework, gather case studies and help people understand how good, no great, having your meeting tweeted about can be. Go check out if you need proof and great case studies, or check out this amazing article (shameless plug) about what we’re seeing in social media at medical conferences.

Build a business case. Again, along with being an evangelist, you need to do your homework. How can meeting coverage on social media benefit your organization? Can it help build your brand? Draw attention to your meeting for future attendees? Engage with your patient communities? Be ready to bring examples of how others have done it. Bring numbers—impressions, people, engagement. It’s hard to say no to numbers unreachable without social media.

Align social with your mission and vision. If your mission is to provide better care for patients, encourage research and advance the science, providing a quick summary of how social can help accomplish those goals and help the organization realize and fulfill its mission and vision makes a pretty strong case.

Remember what social is and what social isn’t. Social media isn’t pure public relations, education or publishing. It can’t take the place of these endeavors, but it can certainly support them. Helping your organization realize this is your role. Or what your role should be.

Finally, gather a community of champions. Not all social media teams, leaders, senior staff or SMEs are created equal, but you should strive for the right mix of people who “get it” and if you don’t have that mix, keep beating your drum. I’ve been lucky to have that secret sauce: a social team who loves and gets the medium, a group of volunteer leaders who sees the light, and senior staff who get it as well. I know I’m lucky. But, this is not unattainable. But you have to be willing to take the time to keep the conversation going until you get your team on the same page.


Meanwhile, while many are outraged that in 2017 they are being asked to censor their tweets, I sympathize with the social media teams having to deliver that message and suffer the brunt of the backlash. It’s never fun to be on the receiving end. But the great news is there’s always next year and the chance to do better.


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