Mental health is still a somewhat taboo topic but, fortunately, it’s also becoming more common to talk about it on social media. Mental health hashtags abound, making it possible for people to connect to others dealing with similar issues, to get support and feel less alone in their struggles.
As more and more celebrities and nonprofits start using social media and hashtags to talk about mental health, it makes a lot of sense for professional health care providers to come on board as well.
Social wall at a mental health conference
Mental Health Kansas City is an annual conference in the Kansas City area and a collaboration between nine community mental health centers, the nonprofit organisation CommCARE, and health-tech supplier Cerner.
For the 2019 conference, CommCARE launched a social wall and two hashtags — #MentalHealthKC and #MHKC19. The hashtags were used to communicate mental health resources as well as spread a message of hope beyond the event itself.
Creative Center of America is the PR and marketing company behind the campaign. We talked to Melanie Geiss, Director of Integrated Social Media Strategies at Creative Center of America to learn more about #MentalHealthKC and its role during the conference.
Director of Integrated Social Media Strategies at Creative Center of America
You’ve created the #MentalHealthKC hashtag and social media wall specifically for the Mental Health KC Conference. What role do social media, the hashtag and the social wall play at the conference?
Creative Center of America created the social wall with the hashtags #MentalHealthKC and #MHKC19 so that hope could be amplified, and help could be more easily found by anyone struggling with the challenges of mental illness.
One goal of the conference was to spread hope about recovery to both those who attended and those who were not at the conference. We actively included traditional media in our campaign. We shared photos and videos of interviews on social media so that people knew when to tune in to news programs.
How did you display your social wall at the conference? How did you alert people to the use of the hashtag?
We displayed the social wall on a 50-inch TV screen in the high-traffic, registration check-in area at the conference.
Cerner also embedded our wall in the app for the event that was used by conference attendees.
We built a strategy with the conference planners so that breakout sessions by subject matter experts were included in the social wall. We specifically asked room hosts and attendees to post on Twitter and Facebook at each session.
We planned individual posts for every speaker and specifically invited speakers to participate in our campaign.
Given that suicide awareness can be a polarising subject, especially on social media, did you have any problems with negative posts?
We had absolutely zero problems with negative posts on any of our social walls. We had no hijacking of our hashtags. We actively monitored our social walls and assigned our social media specialist to keep a close eye on what transpired in real time.
Familiarise attendees with social wall early on
We always emphasise how big an impact properly communicating your campaign can have on your success. And once more, we have a showcase that really underlines just how important it is.
First off, the social wall at the Mental Health KC conference was presented prominently. It was displayed on a screen right at the entrance to the event, ensuring that attendees learned about the social wall and hashtags as soon as possible.
Attendees could further access and familiarise themselves with the social wall in the event app.
The social wall was also embedded on the First Step for Help website, CommCARE’s crisis intervention programme with a 24-hour crisis hotline, on the page promoting the conference.
Create a lively social wall with guaranteed content
The other side of making your social wall a success is to ensure that you will have plenty of content on the wall. A lively wall encourages attendees to share their own posts with the hashtags.
If you want a lively social wall at your event, talk to organisers, speakers, hosts and attendees in advance, asking them to cover sessions, workshops, etc. Their posts to social media will provide guaranteed content for your social wall.
Creative Center of America worked with the conference planners to ensure a steady stream of content by engaging both organisers and attendees. They specifically asked people to share content from breakout sessions to the social wall, thus kickstarting the conversation.