Social Media – After ASCO

I recently got back from the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. The meeting is massive with about 30,000 attendees, making it one of (if not the) premier event to announce news about cancer treatment. One of the main events for me was our abstract in the Trials in Progress session on our ongoing Phase I trial of QBI-139 (TPS146). These posters give me an opportunity for existing contacts to stop by and get an update on where we are in the trial as well as to meet knew people who are interested in our approach.

While at the AACR annual meeting this spring, Sally Church was tweeting about posters with QR codes for immediate access online. (If you are like I was in April, here is some background information on these codes.) The setup was fairly straightforward. I put a pdf of the poster on the web and used QR Stuff to generate a QR code. I was wary of the level of adoption of the scanning programs among this audience, so I printed business cards with the QR code, abstract title and number on one side and instructions for downloading readers on the other side. Having a card to take away would allow people the opportunity to figure out the technology on their own time. My sample size is too small to be significant but in my opinion there is a long way to go before this technology will be primetime at ASCO.

Seeing how the technology was implemented was interesting and I think there are places where I will use it again. However, a potential downside to this strategy is decreased interaction. Since most of the value I realize from poster sessions comes from the one on one discussion, I would be much more enthusiastic if the technology could enable rather than replace interaction. A way to exchange the poster for someone’s contact information? Or a setup to allow for online discussion or submission of comments/questions?

I also tweeted at ASCO. I struggled to figure out the value of the activity, both to me and others. However, I started getting messages thanking me for the information and even more interesting engaging in conversation. The value for me was the information and analysis that wasn’t covered in the mainstream media. There is a significant difference between a clinician or scientist’s opinion on many of these clinical trials and the way the story is presented on the front page of a major paper. I also had the opportunity to meet in real life a number of the people that I am connected to via twitter. The tweet ups (formal and informal) can be a great way to get more comfortable with the technology.  So my social media adventure continues….


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