For generalists such as myself, there’s almost always a conference of interest going on somewhere in the world. In the normal course of events, I would miss 99.9% of them. However, twitter makes it possible for me to gain some insight from all of them.
However, conference tweeting is far from perfect. A large conference will usually generate a massive tweet-storm. Many of the tweets aren’t tremendously useful (e.g., food, selfies, awards, therapy dogs). Buried within are nuggets of goodness. Here are five simple steps to improving conference tweeting.
Twitter added threading a year ago. Many have used this to great advantage, creating “tweetorials” of tweets strung together:
Here is a TWEETORIAL by request on the
RIGHT TO TRY legislation!!
Thanks to @choo_ek and this poll 🙂 for making it happen
I am going to try to explain why this is a bad bill [THREAD] pic.twitter.com/GhWftntSG9
— Vinay Prasad MD MPH (@VPrasadMDMPH) May 31, 2018
Threading can enormously improve live-tweeting at conferences. All the tweets for an individual lecture may be threaded together in sequence:
- The first tweet of the thread should ideally contain the speaker’s credential slide. This identifies the speaker, provides contact information, and gives them credit.
- Threading provides context for each individual tweet, allowing multiple concepts to form a coherent narrative. This helps avoid confusion which arises when folks mis-interpret an isolated tweet which is pulled out of context.
- Threading allows people to easily go from one epic tweet to extract all the tweets from that lecture. For example, if a single tweet is re-tweeted, that tweet will lead folks to the entire contents of the lecture. Threading therefore allows one tweet to amplify the impact of the entire sequence of tweets.
Overall, threading provides a powerful tool that can help extract useful tweets from the deluge of tweets occurring during a conference. A nice example of how to thread together multiple tweets from a lecture is here:
— GruntDoc (@gruntdoc) October 3, 2018
#2: More slide-shots, please
Twitter recently added the ability to include four pictures per tweet. Combined with better cameras in current smartphones, this allows live-tweeting to convey lots of information from slides.
One additional role of slide-shots is that they may help folks find high-yield tweets. Scrolling through the entire conference twitter-feed can be overwhelming or logistically impossible. Searching the conference hashtag for photos is a rapid way to extract useful tweets (example above). Adding photos to your tweets will help other people find them within the tweet-storm.
#3: Tag the speaker
If the speaker of the talk is on twitter, tag them. This means that if someone responds to the tweet (for example with a question), the speaker of the talk can answer them directly. This is a nice way to segue from a lecture into an ongoing, productive twitter discussion.
Text shortcuts can be useful to avoid having to type the same attribution on several tweets. At the most basic level, a text shortcut may be used to rapidly enter the conference hashtag. For more sophisticated tweeters, the text shortcut can be adjusted between talks to include the speaker’s handle and the conference hashtag (example above).
#4: Get a close-up shot of the poster
Drs. Carroll and Schuessler presenting posters at this year’s AAP conference in Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/a9d5vkQZnz
— KUPMR (@KUPMR1) February 21, 2019
Nearly all poster photos focus on the person standing in front of the poster, blocking the view of the poster (examples above). If you’re interested in disseminating your poster scholarship, then also include a dedicated shot of the poster itself. Modern phones can yield a readable image of the entire poster (example below). In fact, if your poster has text so small that your phone can't capture it, the text size is probably too small.
— grainne egan (@egangrainne1983) February 19, 2019
As mentioned earlier, twitter allows a single tweet to contain four images. That’s plenty of images for one picture of the presenter along with a dedicated picture of the poster itself:
"A Higher Heart Rate Improves Quality of Life and Functional Status in Patients with Diastolic Dysfunction," poster presentation of this pilot study at #ACC19. I would like to thank @uvmcvri for the funding support to travel and present this work! pic.twitter.com/oQOvjvSaBx
— kramer wahlberg (@KramerWahlberg) March 16, 2019
#5: Organize the threads
After the conference is over, threads from each lecture can be grouped together for easy retrieval. One way to achieve this is with a blog containing the first tweet from each thread (example here).
Threads can also be organized on twitter, by creating a single master-thread. Each tweet in the master-thread contains, embedded within it, the first tweet of a single thread (example below).
PINNED TWEET: This is going to be a place I store prior TWEETORIALS for easy reading pic.twitter.com/Ltk9c80fLV
— Vinay Prasad MD MPH (@VPrasadMDMPH) June 14, 2018
This is a neat way to package dozens of tweets from a conference into a coherent structure. The reader can easily select lectures they are interested in, and then scroll through the threads of those lectures.
Another way to retrospectively organize tweets is to collect them into a twitter moment. For example, a moment could be used to combine tweets from different threads covering a single lecture. This is a bit more time-consuming however (unlike threading, which can be done almost effortlessly).