Monday, November 24, 2008

Association Social Media Roadshow Reflections Part 1: Twitter

*Disclaimer: I work for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); however, this is my personal blog in which I express my own thoughts and opinions.*

*When I sat down to write this post I intended it to be a wrap up of all my thoughts about our social media explorations at ASHA's Annual Convention. Once I started I realized that there is so much to tell about I'll have to break it up into more than one post; stay tuned for the next installment about Facebook*

Last week was ASHA's Annual Convention--my first. It was great to be able to meet some of the members--12,500 of whom were there--and to see their enthusiasm for their professions in action.

I work in ASHA's web department, and we had a booth at Convention, as did most of the other departments. We used the experience of being among so many members as an opportunity to get some feedback about their level of interest in social media.

Prior to Convention we announced in several places (newsletters, tweets, convention information page on website) that we'd be using Twitter at convention, and encouraged members to sign up so they could follow our updates. For the most part, our members aren't really there yet as far as Twitter, but we do have a handful of dedicated followers. Using Twitter this time around was more of an experiment than anything; we didn't have any real expectation that many would follow.

Prior to convention we tracked a fair number of tweets about it, both from exhibitors who were using Twitter to promote their booths and from members enthusiastic about the upcoming event. Some examples of tweets were:

  • "If you're in Chicago for the ASHA conference, please stop by our booth - #1906"

  • "First session attended at #ASHA08 was presented by my grad school advisor, great to see her again! Fun start to ASHA Convention 2008."

  • "Getting ready for 2 more days solo at the hospital. Becoming very sad that I don't get to go to ASHA convention. I want to go!"

  • "2008 ASHA convention in Boston hosted 13,000 speech-language pathologists & audiologists..what is your prediction for attendance in Chicago"

  • "Have you signed up for a job interview at the ASHA convention?"

Plus plenty more. Not too bad for an association whose members are predominantly in the 35-55 year group.

That said, this was a surprising tweet:
"Refining my ASHA presentation for Saturday 8-10 session 2501. I will talk about twitter and the future"

This from a member of 34 years doing a session on academic leadership! I DMd him asking about his presentation and he later came looking for me and we had a great conversation about social media. He spent about 15 minutes telling me his thoughts about using social media to engage students and showed me his slides and even his MySpace page. He was very cool!

Twitter turned out to be a great tool for interacting with members and exhibitors in several ways:

  • A member tweeted asking if anyone had tickets to a sold-out function; I tweeted her back that I was able to find some for her. It was a great opportunity to offer one-on-one customer service to a member--something she undoubtedly would not have otherwise been able to get at such a large meeting

  • When exhibitors tweeted about convention, I DMd them telling them to stop by and say hi. They did, and several expressed interest in ASHA's social networks--this generated one solid lead for our advertising department, as well as a few others who said they wanted to explore future opportunities with us. One major exhibitor even videotaped an interview with me and my web coworker for their blog!

  • I was able to make a few announcements that otherwise wouldn't have been possible, since we didn't have a message center and the convention daily had been pre-printed

  • A member DMd ASHA saying she'd lost her wallet and asking if we could help find it. Again, it was nice that she thought of using Twitter to connect with ASHA staff.

All in all, Twitter turned out to be much more of a success than we'd anticipated.

Stay tuned for part 2: Facebook.

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