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2013 Colorado Health Foundation Symposium
Kindle Morell is the New Media Manager at the Colorado Health Foundation, a GFM client. The Foundation, based in Denver, works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by investing in grants and initiatives related to nonprofits that encourage healthy living and increase access to care. Each year the Foundation hosts its annual Health Symposium in Keystone, Colo., attracting the brightest minds in health care from across the state and country. Powerful presentations and thoughtful debates ensue. However, knowing that not everyone who wants to attend the Health Symposium can do so, the Foundation employs numerous social media strategies and tactics across several different platforms to broadcast the event well beyond the convention center walls. As Kindle gears up for the 2013 Health Symposium this August, we were lucky enough to grab a few minutes of her time to talk about the role of social media during this critical and growing conference. 

This is part one of a two. 

Q.) Why is social media an important strategy for the Health Symposium?

Our goal for the Symposium is to increase awareness of the onsite idea exchange that occurs as a result of the sessions, and engage attendees to share their experiences and responses. Social media is vital to our Health Symposium in a couple of ways.

First, it gives those who are not able to attend in person access to the great speakers and attendees at the event. They participate by watching the video or Twitter stream and sharing their thoughts or asking questions of speakers at the end of sessions.

Second, for those who are at the event in person, it creates an opportunity to capture ideas and key takeaways in the moment. Through our @HealthSymposium account, we provide context, links, and further reading for our sessions as well as retweeting inspiring ideas that come through the streams.

Q.) How has the role of social media at the Symposium evolved over the past
few years?

I have been at the Health Symposium for the past three years. My first time was actually as a volunteer because I was so impressed with how open and innovative the Foundation was in the social media space…I just had to be a part of it. During the three years, we’ve always live-tweeted and live-streamed the event, as well as publishing blogs and sending out regular e-mails with event wrap-ups. A major improvement came last year, when we went from Foundation staff manning the video streaming to hiring Ustream to do the video production and streaming. Our video stream looked much more professional, and it made monitoring the social streams much more manageable.

This year, we are changing it up in a couple of ways. We will not be posting any blogs or sending emails during the event. Instead, we will share big takeaways through Facebook and Twitter and save the wrap-ups for after the event. We’ll also launch the Colorado Health Foundation’s Instagram account at the event this year. It will be supplemented with an onsite station that prints Instagram pictures with our conference hashtag.

Q.) How do you think Health Symposium attendees are using social media – do they rely on it at the conference or is it geared more toward industry watchers who cannot attend the conference? 

I really think of our online and onsite attendees as equal audiences. Our main goal is to share all the innovation and inspiration of the event with as many people as possible, and to give them connections to ideas and people that move solutions forward.

We have seen an increase over the past three years of people in the room who are using Twitter to share and enhance their conference experience. For those attendees who participate onsite or online, it’s a great way to meet people and share ideas.

Q.) The Foundation has chosen to have a separate Twitter handle and UStream channel. What was the strategy behind that decision and how does having separate channels help engagement during the conference? 

The idea behind having a different Symposium Twitter handle was to not overwhelm our regular Foundation Twitter audience with our live tweets. Anecdotally, we’ve gotten the sense that people do appreciate that.

Ustream is a totally different type of tool, because it is video streaming. There are many people on Twitter who catch on to our conversation through key hashtags, and may retweet our ideas without ever tuning into the live stream. Likewise, a lot of people viewing the live stream aren’t on Twitter. Ustream offers an opportunity for them to add comments or ask questions in real time through a “chat stream.”

We want to sincerely thank Kindle for pulling back the curtain on the fantastic social media work the Foundation does each year at the Health Symposium. The content that comes out of Keystone each year is extremely interesting and we highly encourage you to follow along Aug. 7 – 9. Register at

Part two coming next week

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