5/11/2011 – Martin Kearns, PreventObesity.net
Social media has revolutionized the way people communicate. Politicians share news that they’re running for office on Twitter. Friends organize plans to get together over Facebook. Parents post videos of their kids to YouTube, allowing family to stay connected from across the country.
But how can social media help you in your efforts to combat childhood obesity? How can you use social media at the Childhood Obesity Conference in June? And how can you maximize its benefits to make it work best for you? I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this in a keynote session, but before then I’ve come up with five easy tips to help you dive into the world of social media.
1. Sign Up. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but if you or your organization doesn’t have an account for the major social networking sites — Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — get one! Please also join PreventObesity.net. I’m co-director of this exciting project, in which we’re building an online network of dedicated leaders and supporters working to combat childhood obesity. It’s a great way for you to meet with others in the field and get tools to help with your efforts, so be sure to sign up as a leader. The best part: It’s free!
2. Get Connected. Once you’re signed up for social media sites, you can begin to meet others.
3. Talk the Talk. Major conferences with thousands of participants can be overwhelming, but Twitter helps break it down. The most popular method is live tweeting. It’s simple enough: When in a session or meeting, share your thoughts in a quick tweet or two. Don’t try to cover everything, just interesting tidbits you think are relevant or feedback you’d like to share. Include the hashtag, #COC11, so you can have conversations with others, including people who can’t attend the event but are following it on Twitter. Some sessions might have their own hashtag — I’ll call my session #SocialCOC, for example — so keep that in mind, too. If you want to see what others are saying, search for the hashtag, and you’ll see tweets from other conference-goers. It’s a great way to find out what’s happening in sessions you can’t make.
4. Reach Out. If there’s a specific speaker or participant you’d like to connect with at the Conference, or a question you really want to ask, do it now via social media channels. This allows people to get to know you beforehand, and also lets you get to know them, maximizing your time in San Diego. Remember that sometimes conference speakers are bombarded with questions during sessions, so chatting with them ahead of time will ensure your issues are addressed. Here’s a list of individuals and organizations presenting at the Conference who are on Twitter.
5. Keep in Touch. Don’t let the end of the Childhood Obesity Conference be the end of your social media work. If there’s feedback you’d like to give a speaker, a question you have that didn’t get answered or if you just want to reach out for potential opportunities to work together, use social media! In fact, connect with everybody you meet in San Diego, and you’ll have created a network of collaborators by the time the next conference rolls around.