The Social Wall Creates a Sense of Community at AMEE & Ottawa Hybrid Conferences

“The social wall was a key element of our social media and engagement strategy, providing an excellent collage of experiences.”

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Two females wearing AMEE badges look at the smartphone and laugh.
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Bringing together a global community is no easy task, but doing so during two across-all-time-zones hybrid conference is a true challenge. The good news is that if you have the right tools, they will help you connect virtual attendees with in-person audiences. 

AMEE Lyon 2022 and Ottawa 2022 are two hybrid conferences organized by AMEE (An International Association for Health Professions Education) that were held as sequential but separate events in Lyon, France.  

The AMEE Lyon 2022 conference is one of the biggest annual events in healthcare professions education and brings professionals from all healthcare fields together to share ideas, new developments and best practices. In 2022 it was hosted as a hybrid conference for the first time. 

Ottawa 2022 is a bi-annual event that brings together professionals, educators, students, institutions and organizations from around the world to share new ideas and approaches to assessment and evaluation in health professions education. 

Two hybrid events, one shared social wall

Both conferences offered the opportunity for either in-person or online participation. Those attending online could present to the online audience in their time zone and watch plenaries, symposia and research papers live-streamed from Lyon or pre-recorded on the Swapcard event platform. 

Since AMEE 2022 was held concurrently with Ottawa 2022, attendees could participate in both conferences. The organizers also used one social wall for both events and collected content from social media using the event hashtag #AMEE2022. 

The two hybrid conferences brought together over 4,700 participants representing 87 countries worldwide, 2,055 speakers and 563 sessions, over 50 companies and 164 exhibitors. That’s what we call international! 

We spoke with Gordon Henry, Digital Content and Engagement Officer at AMEE, to learn how embedding the social wall into the event app and website helped AMEE bridge the gap between virtual and in-person audiences and create a sense of community among healthcare professionals from all around the world.

Gordon Henry

Gordon Henry

Digital Content and Engagement Officer, AMEE

Even though the hybrid conferences went on for only a few days, you went for a subscription plan. How did you incorporate the social wall into your marketing strategy before, during, and after the two events?

Pre-conference, we started advertising the hashtag and ways to get involved in the social media aspect of the conference through our social channels and by email. 

An image containing a screenshot of the AMEE 2022 hybrid conference social wall. The text reads 'Share your AMEE conference experiences. Use the hashtag #AMEE2922 and feature on our Swapcard conference social wall.'
Source: AMEE LinkedIn profile

During both conferences, delegates were encouraged to post their thoughts and experiences using the hashtag so they would appear on the wall. 

The social wall was a key element of our social media and engagement strategy throughout the conferences, providing an excellent collage of experiences throughout.

A selfie of two smiling females from Instagram. The caption reads 'AMEE conferences have always been important in my career, however AMEE 2022 was definitely a landmark. Such an honour to share the panel and co-present with 2 legends in MedEd; Prof. Ronald Harden, world leader in MedEd and creator of OSCE, and Prof Trudie Roberts former president of AMEE, a true inspiration and sweetheart of all young doctors with her unique sense of humour. I am already looking forward to next year’s conference #AMEE2022'
Source: AMEE & Ottawa social wall

Post-conference, we embedded the social wall on the homepage and news page on our website to keep the conversation going and showcase the great positivity that came from the conferences.

AMEE website's homepage features a social wall full of attendee-generated content.
The social wall embed on the AMEE homepage.

What were your goals for using a social wall? Why did you embed your social wall on both the event website and as part of a virtual environment?

The main goal was to use the wall to generate and showcase that collage of positive delegate experiences, having everyone share their experience and bring our conference community together. 

We wanted this to feature as a prominent part of everyone’s experience, so we embedded it on the event website and virtual environment to make it accessible for everyone, those attending in person and those joining virtually.

An Instagram post of one of the AMEE Lyon 2022 hybrid conference attendees. A collage of photos where the first one shows a female at the exhibitor booth, the second and the fird one shows the same female with a group of people. The caption reads 'I am deeply grateful to the entire AMEE team who made the Lyon #AMEE2022 conference possible! It was wonderful to meet you all face-to-face! In these pictures Diana Davidson, Karen Burnett, Kerrie McKay and @EileenMcginley6'.
Source: AMEE & Ottawa social wall

You collected a lot of user-generated content from social media. How and where did you promote your wall and motivate people to post?

In the run-up to the conferences, we frequently posted on our own social channels advertising how to connect with us and use the social wall, and we advertised it on the event page and platform, as well as in some digital leaflets which delegates had access to before and during the conferences.

An image containing a screenshot of the AMEE 2022 hybrid conference social wall. The text reads 'Use the hashtag #AMEE2922 and feature on our Swapcard conference social wall.'
Source: AMEE LinkedIn profile

Why did you choose Swapcard to build the hybrid conference’s virtual environment, and how did you find the setup process?

We have used Swapcard for a few of our annual conferences now and have found that it has been a very engaging and flexible tool. 

The feedback from our staff and delegates has been overwhelmingly positive, and it was a huge part of our running both events this year as hybrid events. 

The setup process was relatively smooth, and we have adapted it for each conference, learning from the previous year and making it more effective for the next.

Our takeaways

As you can see from AMEE’s experience, social walls and hybrid events are a great match. A social wall helps you maintain a high level of engagement by providing an accessible communication channel for in-person and virtual audiences alike. Having that extra channel to connect with others means even more to people who can’t join the event in person.

With an event social wall, everybody gets an equal chance to share their experience and favorite bits from various sessions, express their admiration for speakers and mentors, and learn more about the exhibitors by following their social media posts.

Apart from seeing their audience engaged, the event organizers get to walk away with loads of user-generated content that could be repurposed to promote upcoming events. AMEE chose to embed its social wall on its homepage to keep the conversation going and maintain a sense of community after the events. 

The great thing about social walls is that you can integrate them into every area of your hybrid conference environment, whether it’s an event platform, an app, or a website. Remember to set up digital screens at the venue and display your wall in between sessions, on coffee breaks, and during networking events to put your audience in the spotlight. 

To foster a sense of community during the event, make sure your social wall is easy to access in every area of your hybrid conference environment. That way, more and more attendees will follow the conversation on the social wall and feel inspired to join it.

Interested in integrating a social wall into your favorite event platform? Take a look at our Partner Directory to see if we already have an integration in place. If not, you can still embed the iFrame code generated by into whichever event platform you use.

Still trying to get a grasp on using social media and attendee-generated content as an event engagement tool? We’ve got you covered with our Guide to Virtual and Hybrid Events

Or perhaps you’d like to get the party started and create your own event social wall?

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Related blog posts:

Event Content 101: Turn Attendees Into Content Creators

8 Ways to Promote Hybrid Events With Digital Marketing

How to Tap Social Media to Ensure Your Event Is a Success