Alliance for CME conference: Day 1

I have been grumbling in my mind about having to get up at 4:30 Eastern to catch a flight to San Francisco for the opening bell of the Alliance for CME's annual conference, but after attending this afternoon's Medical Education and Communication Company Alliance member section meeting (and yes, there was some talk about dropping the "communication" part of the group's title, a la NAMEC), I can say that it was worth the trek.

It may help that I'm a bit of a believer in social media as something that can, as one presenter said, help individual CME providers, support the development of the CME community, and help providers and others advocate for the profession, but I already got a bunch of takeaways. Section leader Alicia Sutton, CCMEP, put together a terrific lineup, including a panel of CME providers who, in five minutes each, gave us a glimpse into how they're using different social media to augment their CME programs. One person talked about using Facebook to reach out to patients through chapters of a society for sufferers of a particular disease state and using the responses to inform their needs assessment. Another told a tale of using Twitter to reinforce key educational messages from activities. Another talked about how her organization used social media to market a CME activity. And yet another discussed how his organization set up a learning blog, and what they learned along the way in terms of challenges and best practices. I'm not a big fan of panels in general, but this one was just terrific, and left me wanting more. The Q&A also rocked the house.

Then Jeremy Lundberg, who is on the Alliance for CME's social media working group, took to the mic to share how the ACME came up with its social media strategy, which it just recently began to roll out. A key takeaway from his session was how the Alliance used a POST methodology, which he explained meant:

People: assess where your audience currently is at when it comes to social media

Objectives: winnow it down to 3-5 things you reasonably want to accomplish, and determine what metrics you'll use to measure how well you're accomplishing them

Strategy: Plan how you want your relationship with the audience to evolve

and only then

Technology: figure out which technology will help you do what you want to do with your audience.

He also went over the latest social media survey conducted with the MECCA group, including the fact that the biggest challenge for most (66%) was a lack of personnel and financial resources to support a social media initiative.

Note: While he didn't say it, I think it's vital that, when developing your objectives, you don't just think about what objectives will be good for your organization. It's tempting to focus on things like recruiting new members and getting more people to sign up for your activities, but if your objectives don't start with "what's in it for me" -- with "me" meaning your audience or your learners -- you're missing the boat. The quickest way to turn people off in the world of social networks is to be all about what's in it for you, not what you can give to those who choose to be in your network.

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