Twitter is a great companion for academic conferences – before, during and after the event, the micro-blogging platform can expand and deepen the experience. This post offers some ideas for making the most of Twitter at your next conference.
Building a conference community with a hashtag #
If you are organising a conference, make sure you have a good hashtag and share it widely. Here are some things to think about when choosing a hashtag:
- Search Twitter to see that your preferred hashtag is not already in use.
- Keep it short and simple – for example, we used #SussexDDW for Digital Discovery Week.
- If yours is an annual event think about adding the year to the hashtag – such as the British Educational Research Association’s #BERA19.
- Use ‘CamelCase’ to capitalise words in your hashtag to make it accessible – like this #EachWordCaps
- Add the hashtag to the conference programme and any promotional materials.
- Tweet early and often, from the call for papers through to registration and the programme. This will raise awareness of the hashtag and encourage its use.
If you are attending a conference, check out the hashtag in advance so you can join in the conversation.
On the day there are likely to be some people ‘live-tweeting’, that is, reporting on the conference as it happens by tweeting. You might want to join in, so here is the etiquette around conference tweeting:
- Ask permission – unless organisers or presenters have explicitly said it is okay to tweet about what is being presented.
- Only tweet photos of people if you have explicit permission from them.
- Always attribute quotes – preferably using the speaker’s Twitter name (handle).
- Always include the conference hashtag.
- Remember tweets are completely public – so be polite and professional.
Live tweeting from a conference can be an engrossing activity and you may be wondering how to find time to tweet whilst listening and making notes. I use Twitter as my note-making system at conferences. I tweet the key messages I want to take away and if others make good points or ask interesting questions I want to think about later I ‘like’ or retweet them. At the end of the event I have a collection of tweets that sums up the event for me.
For more on how to tweet at conferences see:
- Leveraging Twitter to Maximize Your Conference Experience, Ai Addyson-Zhang, 2018
- How to use Twitter at Conferences, Dr. Tullio Rossi, 2018
Developing the conversation
For those attending an event, Twitter provides an additional space for interaction and networking. Delegates can compare notes about parallel sessions, continue discussions and develop the conversation by linking to related resources.
If you cannot be at the event, following a conference hashtag is a great way of participating remotely. It is also good to bring other voices into conference conversations (see ‘Being there – or not?’). As this visualization of the tweets using a particular conference hashtag shows, there can be varying degrees of interaction. This conference had 150 delegates attending, but the visualisation shows nearly 3 times that many nodes – each representing a unique user using the hashtag on the day of the conference.
If you are speaking at a conference, you might want to consider sharing your slides on Twitter at the start of your session to engage this wider audience. Free tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer will let you schedule your tweets in advance.
Curating and sharing conference tweets
After the event you may want to gather tweets (yours and other people’s) together and present them in a more structured way. If you have been using Twitter as your note-making tool then this will be particularly important. It can also be a great way to build a resource that can be saved and shared.
Twitter has its Moments tool which allows you to do this (only available on twitter.com, not mobile apps). When creating a Moment you can include tweets:
- from specific accounts
- that you have ‘liked’
- from a search for a word or hashtag
- by adding a link.
If you want to collect more than just tweets, you might like to try Wakelet, which lets you collect and share a wide range of digital content such as:
- a website
- tweets (selected by searching for a hashtag or user)
- a YouTube video
- an image
- links to content you have already used in Wakelet
- a PDF
- some text of your own, including some simple formatting and weblinks.
Wakelets can be set as private, unlisted (where only people with the link can see it) or public and are easily shareable to a range of social media platforms or as a link.
Here is an example of a Wakelet collection showing these different types of content.
If you want any help using Twitter or Wakelet for teaching and learning please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an update to the 2016 post Conference Tweeting and Storify.