The Last Word: Using Social Media at Conferences

By Eve Bird / 17 Apr 2018

Aesthetic nurse prescriber Eve Bird expresses why she believes using social media at conferences is essential for aesthetic practitioners.

As an aesthetic practitioner based in the north of England, I regularly attend conferences all over the UK. This is because I believe it’s vitally important to keep abreast of developments within the industry, to explore new ideas and to network with other aesthetic practitioners. Just as training is an essential part of everyday life as an aesthetic practitioner, so, too, is social media. Our clinic thrives on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and we like to use them to keep patients in the know, share updates within the industry, along with those of the clinic, while educating them on new and current treatments and products. This is why I’ll always have a smartphone on-hand when attending events or aesthetic conferences.

The benefits

I’ve always seen updating social media channels during conferences as a mutually beneficial practice. My patients benefit by being brought into the life of the clinic and learn about the aesthetics industry, while the speakers benefit by receiving a whole new audience for the product, treatment or service they are talking about. The conference may also retweet or reply to a tweet, which expands our clinic’s reach further. It cements the speaker’s name as an authority in the specialty, while reassuring my patients that I’m keeping up to date with the latest technology, health and safety, and practices in the aesthetics world. It’s a win-win situation but of course, general rules of etiquette must be followed, as poor manners are inexcusable, as discussed in more detail below.

Why some may disagree

Bad etiquette

There are some who prefer to share on social media throughout a conference and talk, however, I prefer to tweet and share outside of the presentation. Surely, we cannot ignore the fact that we are attending to learn something new and updating social media incessantly would detract from this objective. Therefore, I think it is best to tweet/update Facebook just before the conference begins, during a break, if there is one, and again at the end.

I’ve never thought of this as bad etiquette as many conferences actively encourage sharing on social media and will share the hashtags that they want attendees to use when mentioning the conference. Of course, phones should be set to silent, so as not to interrupt the speaker throughout their presentation.

Misleading

Thankfully, I’ve never had an issue with tweets being taken out of context as I usually tweet a direct quote, or my own experiences of the conference. I save anything that requires further expansion for my copywriter to use in a blog on my return. I can see how some tweets can be misleading though, if a full explanation isn’t given. It’s always best to check, recheck and if in doubt, don’t post.

What practitioners should do

Although I strongly believe that using social media at conferences is essential, practitioners should go about it in the correct way, as to not cause disruption. The flash should always be off (unless the speaker has finished) and a phone should always be set to silent, in my opinion. It’s difficult enough to speak in public without interruptions from multiple phones.

Make sure the conference is social media friendly

Many conferences will have signs sharing the hashtags they want you to use and have Wi-Fi available. For example, at the Aesthetics Conference and Exhibition (ACE), it encourages delegates to engage on social media using #ACE2018 but delegates should be considerate of speakers and respect their instructions on what they can/can’t share. Many conferences will also be active on social media in the hours leading up to the conference. These are good indicators that they welcome engagement during their presentations. If there seems to be a social media blackout, and you can’t find details online, ask a conference organiser to ensure you’re practicing good etiquette while sharing with your followers.

Check for any guidelines

There may be a sign asking you not to tweet or share on social media during a presentation or conference, or a speaker may lay out some rules at the beginning of a talk. This is to protect patient confidentiality and to ensure that any media circulating, with a connection to the conference, is of a professional quality. Make sure you listen carefully and scout the area for any signs to ensure you’re being polite and respectful.

Summary

When using social media at events, I believe it is always important to keep good etiquette at the forefront or your mind, ensure you are not in breach of copyright and be careful not to misquote speakers. Basic good manners should be considered, such as keeping your phone on silent, choosing a seat a little further back so as not to distract the speaker, seeking permission if you’re unclear and always crediting the conference and speaker. In summary, I believe tweeting and sharing on social media is an integral part of attending an aesthetic conference to educate your patients, as well as fellow practitioners who are not in attendance, as long as common sense and respect are exerted. 

References

  1. Thomson Reuters, Step-by-step guide to copyright in images online, <https:// uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/w-003-6889?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc. Default)&firstPage=true&bhcp=1> 

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