The Long Road.

07Jun09

So this past week I’ve been in San Diego for our Annual Conference and I’m completely exhausted. I wanted to share with everyone the different ways that we used to connect with our constituents and I would love your feedback on all we’ve done.

The PAnel – A conference blog manned by 11 PAs/PA Students & 1 exhibitor (who works for a medical library). This was the first blog of this nature that AAPA has embarked upon and we completely let them take over. The content was their’s, the pictures (for the most part) were their’s, they chose their own name and helped come up with their own guidelines. We got really positive feedback from the bloggers themselves about their experiences as well.

2 Positives – Engaging content, driven by our members

2 Needs Improvement – The blog could be moved up a level in navigation, need to figure out ways to extend the blog beyond the conference period

Tatango – Tatango is a text messaging service that we used to inform attendees of room changes, session cancellations, promotions, etc. It was a useful service for us, but we noticed that if we used it for anything other than informational texts we would lose members of the group. This was valuable information for us moving forward, because should we offer this again, we realize that there is a difference between real value & promotional value.

2 Positives – Easy to use, an efficient way of distributing information

2 Needs Improvement – Integration into our website, no “promo” texts should be sent out

Twitter – We used the hashtag #aapa09 to create a back channel for what was happening at conference. Unlike most other .orgs we do NOT have a general account manned by someone. We have many employees on Twitter, but only allow 2 employees to use AAPA in their Twitter username. One is myself & the other is our Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations. We have done this b/c it is way to easy to become a faceless .org to those follow if you have a general account & then we don’t allow more employees to use AAPA in their usernames b/c if 1 person follows all the employees & we are tweeting a lot, then all of a sudden AAPA gets equated with spam. We do encourage employees to self-identify (should they choose to do so) in their bios, but this is not required should they not want to participate in the business sense.

2 Positives – We got AAPA leadership to start participating in the conversation, were able to engage people who were there & those who could not attend

2 Needs Improvement – Twitter search now only seems to archive for about 2 weeks, finding a way to pull decent metrics from the conversation (hashtag.org provides metrics that aren’t very clear in my opinion)

Facebook Group– We started this Facebook group after last year’s conference, but are now considering moving to a Public Profile as this may provide more up front view to the content we send out. I found that it was just harder to keep dynamic content on the Facebook group, dynamic content is really the territory of the Public Profile (aka Fan Pages).

2 Positives – Have amassed over 1300 members, the ability to message the entire group

2 Needs Improvement – Dynamic content that a group does provide the option for, transferring to a Conference Public Profile

YouTube – We’ve archived a bunch of footage that we captured on-site and did this in the previous year as well. We will be uploading more footage as it becomes available and I think the video footage has a longre shelf life than some of the other content.

2 Positives – Long shelf life for video/re-usable & embeddable, wide-variety of content from educational to promotional

2 Needs Improvement – Turn around time, finding a video hosting solution that allows for clips longer than 10 minutes

Flickr – We have a Flickr photostream & set-up a group for IMPACT 2009 as well. We offered a “photo-sharing kiosk” where individuals could upload their photos to a computer and then we would pull them into our photostream. There was much more popularity for the group than the photo sharing kiosk, so we will evaluate how we will be able to improve on this in the future, whether that is moving our photo-sharing to Facebook or push the group for another year, or maybe look at other solutions.

2 Positives – The pictures that were uploaded to the group had a lot of diversity in look & feel, pictures are engaging and allows us to archive visually the experience of conference (we also have decent picture views)

2 Needs Improvement – Participation & is Flickr the right forum for this? Do we continue photo-sharing?

Live-Streaming – This year was a first for many things for the AAPA, including a Town Hall meeting with our CEO, President & President-Elect. To compliment this we also live-streamed the entire thing via Ustream. We chose Ustream b/c of the ease of use, using their service is free & that it opens us up to a broader audience, much the way having a YouTube channel does. We also pumped this live-stream into the surrounding hotels so that way people who were not able to attend would still be able to watch as well.

2 Positives – Free to live-stream, allowed PAs who could not attend were still able to participate & we even fielded a few questions from Twitter as well.

2 Needs Improvement – Archiving the footage proved tedious & difficult b/c of YouTube’s 10 minute rule, better promotion of it as a way to connect & possibly increasing the frequency

Social Media Cafe – We offered a lounge space with WiFi (up to 30 people at one time), couches, tables & chairs as well as office hours every day with the “AAPA Social Media Expert” (aka me). The goal was to encourage people to ask questions about these tools to help them get more engaged in the conversation. I ended up doing a few demos, but most of the questions were about how to sign on to the WiFi.

2 Positives – People loved having WiFi! Opportunity to engage with individuals on a one-to-one basis and provide great customer service

2 Needs Improvement – Scheduled demos as opposed to the free form hours might be more helpful, more seating!

So this is my personal take on successes & areas for improvement. By no means are these the only successes that we encountered and I’m sure there are other ways we could improve. I’d love to get your feedback on what we’ve done and what ways you think we could improve our efforts moving forward.

~Lynn

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