CHEST 2013: It’s not all about the lungs.

I’ve worked as social media specialist for the American College of Chest Physicians for just over two years. Each year, it is in my realm of responsibility to coordinate our own social media presence at this meeting, but also to encourage and cheerlead for our meeting attendees (and non-attendees) to get involved.

It has been an exciting evolution and social media has helped to enhance the meeting experience.

At our meeting in 2012, we had fewer than 700 tweets and 629,000 impressions generated from our meeting hashtag. This year, we had nearly 3,000 tweets and 4.2 million impressions generated from our meeting hashtag. This is tremendous growth.

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So, how did we do it?

Day in the life. We began our day in the life project last year. The project follows select attendees (and even some who just adopted the #DILCHEST2013 hashtag organically) throughout the meeting, and allows for a heavily clinical and scientific meeting to have a real human feeling. Social media has allowed our community to show the human side of medicine and doctors, which I’ve mentioned in my blog in the past.

From a marketing perspective, this project has been a great tool to promote our meeting and give a snap shot of what it is like to attend. We have used a tool called Storify to tell the story of our meeting and we use it throughout the year. So, something like a tweet that operates in a way similar to a firework (quick burst and then gone), Storify allows content to be organized in a way that is easy to use again.

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We asked people to help. From asking our meeting attendees to participate in our day in the life project, to seeking out physician experts who would be willing to live tweet through interesting sessions at the meeting, we had great engagement. The way we accomplished this? We just asked. Sometimes it is the simple things that can be so successful.

We talked back. I recently read that nearly 70% of companies and organizations don’t converse with their followers on Twitter. Our social media strategy seeks to humanize our organization. Social media is a perfect tool to make this happen. At CHEST, we talked. And talked. And talked. I really believe that our interaction and conversation with our followers created a Twitter environment that made our attendees feel comfortable to tweet.

As we look forward to our future meetings, CHEST World Congress 2014 in Madrid next March, and CHEST 2014 in Austin, Texas next October, I feel we have a great set of tools and a solid foundation. And I’m excited to see where we go!

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