One of the recent trends at cancer conferences that I have noticed has been the creative use of social media by some cancer and urology Society organizations such as AACR, ASCO, AUA and ASH to promote their events and communicate with attendees before, during and after conferences.   It’s not all American organisations either, with some European societies also becoming increasingly digitally aware, including ESMO, EAU and EHA all gradually building an online presence beyond their websites.

With SoMe, we have also seen an uptick in digitally savvy attendees using tools such as Twitter to tweet snippets from different conference sessions, drive traffic to their posters, meet up with others at different sessions and generally engage in scientific or clinical discussions around various hot topics.

Last year, the American Urological Association (AUA) started nicely with baby steps, setting up Twitter and YouTube accounts and a fledgling Facebook page, although only the Twitter account was really active at the 2010 annual meeting.

Following on from that successful experiment, this year they are much more active on Twitter and Facebook, announcing events, press briefings, running competitions and responding promptly to attendees queries.

A bunch of us at a satellite society at the Grand Hyatt found ourselves without heat or wifi on Saturday, so we tweeted under the conference hashtag to alert the organisers over at the convention center.  I personally was delighted that the temperature improved in the afternoon of the Society for Basic Urological Research (SBUR) meeting, as the frozen Tundra-temperatures shed an icy pall over the excellent morning presentations from Dr. Charles Sawyers and others.  Tweeting polite feedback does bring results!

Here’s the AUA Facebook page, which is actively managed, with photos, news, links and other interesting snippets:

AUA Facebook Page

There are also light booths around the convention centre advertising the Facebook page:

AUA 2011

Another first was a training course over the weekend for physicians on how to use social media to market their urology practices was held for interested attendees. I thought this was a great idea and this is one area I expect to see grow as more urologists get involved with social media and incorporate the tools into their business marketing – engagement with people and potential patients can pay off in the long run.

Eventually, I think we will see more social media develop for learning opportunities especially in the CME environment or incorporated into more skills training, for example, to YouTube videos to explain surgical techniques and aftercare for patients.  The start is a good one, but we’re only just seeing the tip of the iceberg begin to emerge.

Meanwhile, thanks to Wendy and Dana at AUA for a job well done on social media at the 2011 annual meeting in DC!