Social Media Reframe and ACPA

So evidently I freaked some people out.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the ACPA Convention in Tampa, FL.  As part of the digital technology task force, I was excited to reconnect with this team face to face and draft out our formal recommendations based on almost 9 months worth of research, work and meetings.  I was also looking forward to attending different sessions, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, and diving into thought-provoking conversations.

Generally, while at conferences I’m a crazy social media person.  I’m all over Twitter and Facebook – posting images, thoughts, quotes, etc.  I live my conference life out loud and on-line.

Except this time – I didn’t.  I did my work as an ACPA social media influencer at the larger sessions, and I volunteered at the Social Media Command Center, but I made a very conscious effort to not broadcast all that I did on social media.  I realized that conferences for me had turned into a sort of social media arms race.  How quickly can I tweet out that nugget of information?  Quick – I’d better take a picture and post it on Instagram and Facebook to capture the moment! Oops – I didn’t remind people about my presentation – better do that.  And I’d better take a picture of the food (well, I still do that.  Food pics are my kryptonite).

Now before I cause a second wave freak out, know that I do not fault those who live their lives out loud at conferences on social media, nor would I ever discourage someone from sharing something that truly excites them about their work, their interactions or their friends/colleagues.  Be proud of what you do and share what you love.  But social media had become laborious and somewhat anxiety producing; it was not adding value to my conference experience in the way I had come to use it. I was more focused on getting messages out to the world than on what I was engaging in.  I was not in the moment. Rather, I was rushing to broadcast the moment for other people to see, and by doing so, I completely missed it.

Some may consider this change in activity disingenuous, or that it undermines my social media brand.  I do not.  I simply decided to do things differently. I sat down before ACPA Convention and asked myself three questions:

  1. What do you want to get out of this experience?
  2. Who do you want/need to connect with and for what purpose?
  3. What are you missing out on by focusing so much on sharing and less on engaging?

One of the biggest realizations I came to is that by being so focused on social media, I was not allowing space for either in depth conversations or learning to occur.  I was also not being present for the people with which I wanted to connect, nor was I able to embrace the random moments of connection and conversation that only face to face conferences provide.

I am proud to say my choices this time made a difference.  I did share some information online, but no where near as much as I normally do. However, by focusing less on social media during convention, I was able to connect in more meaningful ways with colleagues and friends, and engage fully in the learning that happens in these spaces. While I didn’t get to connect with everyone, and I still hate that we never seem to have enough time, I was able to have a far more genuine and fulfilling experience even though I had to cut it short and head back home.  The deep and meaningful learning I experienced and connections I made at this ACPA convention were fundamentally stronger than what I’d experienced before, so much so that I look forward to following a similar path at NASPA later this month.

So I’m sorry if the #SoMe silence freaked some folks out – I’ll make sure to give people a bit of a heads up next time.  I do appreciate the “are you okay?” texts and messages. For me, it reinforces that these on-line connections are truly personal, and I want to honor those by being fully present when we do connect IRL.

How will you approach social media use at conferences? 


5 thoughts on “Social Media Reframe and ACPA

  1. Julie – I found myself doing the same thing – I spent little time on social media at this conference and much more connecting with people face-to-face – that is the main reason I go to conferences, after all. I think, though, that if I had attended more sessions, I might have used it more. Social media has become a form of taking notes for me, except that when I get responses to it, it makes me dig deeper. It’s not so much about being the first to share something, as to sharing it for my own growth. And as I commented on another blog post earlier, I think we need to consider the give and take of those of us attending conferences and sharing information for those that can’t attend – what do we gain by this? What do we lose?
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, and so great to see you last weekend, even if it was only for a few minutes!

    • Thanks, Kristen, for your thoughts here. I agree – where’s the balance is really they key question. Lisa’s post is also great – how does FOMO also figure in to this? The entire “someone is doing this better than me” or “will I be irrelevant if I DON’T do this” is a concern. How can we work with professionals (not just young, but all) and help each other find the balance that is right for us?

  2. Pingback: FOMO and the Conference Hashtag | Lisa Endersby – Canadian Student Affairs professional working to topple pedestals and create paths for success.

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