Now that's how you live Tweet a conference!

How to spread information about a conference effectively via Twitter.
Published in Microbiology

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With so many great conferences all over the world, it can often feel like you are missing out if you can't get to them all.

Luckily, Live Tweeting of conferences is becoming more and more common and it is a great way to share what is going on at your conference with anyone in the world.

All you need is a conference hashtag which you use in every Tweet and then anyone with access to the internet can search for the hashtag and see what is going on in real-time. While you obviously need a Twitter account to publish Tweets with the conference hashtag, you don't need a Twitter account to search Twitter and read what is going on at a conference.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that last week was the Royal Society Bacteriology conference which I was unfortunately unable to attend. However, thanks to the great job of the conference organisers and attendees it felt like I was there in person.

If you have a Twitter account, go and see what I mean, search for the hashtag #RSBacteriology. If you don't, check out this link (no twitter account necessary).

You will see that people have posted really informative tweets from all of the sessions. I just wanted to do a quick breakdown of why, as someone who wasn't attending the conference, I thought this was one of the best Live Tweeted academic events I have seen.

1. Very Interactive Participants

People were Tweeting the whole time. Every time I refreshed my Twitter feed, there was a new piece of information in there. This made me feel engaged with the conference all the way through the day.

2. Pictures

Many people tweeted photos and images from the conferences. An example that sticks in my mind is during a talk by Regine Hengge who presented amazing images of biofilm stainings, someone posted a link to a figure from her paper which showed up in my Twitter feed. This was great as I immediately knew what people were commenting on during the session. Even seemingly little things like Tweeting a picture of the conference brochure was nice to see and made me feel present.

3. Q & A

People were reiterating questions from the audience on Twitter. Again, this really makes you feel like you are there and gives you a unique insight into the discussion that is difficult to convey unless you are actually present. It also gives you the potential to ask questions via Twitter, although this wasn't done during the conference (as far as I know).

3. Links to articles

It was really nice to see articles linked up in the Tweets. This made it really easy to find the work that was being talked about. Presumably this was also really useful for the people present at the conference.

4. Tweet context

Most of the tweets were put into context. For example this Tweet from Olivier Restif:

"José Penades presents a new class of mobile elements in Staph aureus: chromosome islands that hijack bacteriophage #RSBacteriology"

This is great! From a very short Tweet, I get the name of the author, the conference hashtag and an accurate synopsis of the work. If you're interested, it is easy to find more information in PubMed or Google.

So, great job all you #RSBacteriology Tweeps. You've inspired me to try and do the same at the next conference I will attend. I think this is a really interesting topic as conference tweeting can also be done badly. There are also ethical implications to broadcasting work presented at a conference all around the world. It would be interesting to hear what you think in the comments.


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