Recently during one of our webinars, an attendee asked our thoughts on using a hashtag to direct participants to a conversation during the live event. We have asked around in order to examine all of the possible perspectives on this topic. Here are the Pros and Cons for using social media during Continuing Education webinars.
CONS for using social media during your webinar
- The idea of having an attendee split their attention between the content of the webinar and a social media feed seems counter-intuitive. After all, the webinar attendee is at the educational event to learn. Many continuing education events are required by a jurisdiction to practicing within an industry. We would hope that doctors and lawyers are paying the utmost attention on the subject matter being taught during the event rather than scrolling through what others are posting.
- If you are encouraging your attendees to split their focus between the webinar and Twitter, then what is stopping them from checking their email, or multitasking elsewhere. It is the job of the host and presenter to set a precedent of where the participant’s attention should be.
- Many continuing education events are pay-to-attend, meaning the attendee pays up to several hundred dollars to access this educational event. If a participant tweets a statistic, or shares the thoughts of the presenter, then the value of the event decreases. This is why, during in-person professional CE events, participants are often asked to leave their mobile devices off during the presentation.
- Keep in mind the context in which the information is being shared. For instance, Twitter only allows 140 characters, which makes it difficult for anyone to convey a full idea. You have to consider if having your ideas shared in fragments is worth the potential promotions they will receive.
- Consider if the ideas that you are presenting are proprietary. Often with continuing education events, the presenter or educator will give credit or citations that are necessary to understand the whole picture. Only learning part of the content could be detrimental to those who were not in the event.
- Finally, we always stress the importance of evaluating your analytics of how attendees are participating during the webinar. Post event reports may show that the participant is not contributing or participating during the event, but they may be actively posting on a second party social site. This provides a time consuming and difficult task to collect all data necessary to accurately analyze your events.
PROS for using social media during continuing education webinars
We understand that social media in itself is a force to be reckoned with, and merely ignoring it is not a practice we would recommend. So, here are some best practices for using social media during your live event.
- Social media is a great avenue to network with peers, and promote your content or events. It would be a lost opportunity to not ask your attendees to help you promote an event to their colleagues who might also be interested, which is all tied together nicely by using a hashtag. Many of our current continuing education customers use a unique hashtag for each event. This allows for easier collaboration of ideas before and after the life event.
- We recommend using live polling/surveys in addition to the social networking to keep the attendee engaged with the presenter and the content within the webinar platform. Further, have at least one person dedicated to monitoring the conversation on Twitter; you don't want your attendee using a pubic platform to share thoughts that would be inaccurate, or not portray the presenter or host in a positive light.
- If you like the idea of finding a place for attendees to begin a conversation, collaborate and network, we recently saw a great way to use social media for before and after a live event. Writer and webinar presenter Debra Gordon recently did a fantastic webinar on The Awesome Power of Whitepapers, and upon registration, the participant received an invitation to join a private LinkedIn group that is accessible only to the webinar attendees. This was a fantastic way to use social media to start and continue the conversations about your subject matter.
We hope that we have given you all of the information that you need to make an informed decision on whether to encourage the use of social media with your webinars. if you have any thoughts to share, please leave them in the comments below, or tweet us at @beaconlive.
Are you delivering Continuing Education webinars? Check out our blog with best practices.