How to Tweet a Scientific Meeting

Coming up in December is the National SCC Cosmetic Science Symposium where cosmetic chemists and formulators from around the country and world will gather in New York City to hear presentations, see posters, and have discussions about the latest advancements in cosmetic science.  It really promises to be a great event and I will be attending. twitter science cosmetic

You can get registration information here.

SCC Cosmetic Science Symposium

Twitter for a conference

One of the things I like to do when in an all-day scientific meeting is to use Twitter to communicate what is going on.  This is a great way for you to remember what you’ve seen, pay attention to the talks, and let people who couldn’t attend the event know what’s going on.  If you follow the right Twitter user and they are tweeting in the best way, it could almost be like you are at the meeting yourself.

But Twitter doesn’t come with an instruction manual and it’s not exactly obvious how you should use Twitter during a scientific talk.  So, here are some guidelines to Tweeting a scientific meeting that I’ve found helpful.

Choose a hashtag

Before tweeting the meeting you should choose a hash tag.  A hashtag is a simple abbreviation preceded by the # sign.  You use them so it makes it easy to find all the related tweets on Twitter.  That way if multiple people are tweeting a meeting, you can easily search the hashtag to find all the relevant messages.  For example at the upcoming SCC meeting, I might choose a hashtag like #nyscc.  Or you could choose #sccmeeting or something relevant.  The like to make them long enough to be unique (that’s why I wouldn’t choose #SCC) but short enough to not take up too many characters.  It’s great if you could communicate to other people you know at the meeting who are tweeting it so you all use the same hashtag.  Be sure to include the hashtag in every message (usually at the end).

Start with the talk title and presenter’s name

It’s always helpful to start with the presenter’s name and the title of their talk.  Sometimes the titles get pretty long so if you feel like shortening it or just writing what the talk is about in your own words, that’s acceptable.

Take pictures of the slides

One of the great additions to Twitter is the incorporation of photos in tweets.  So, if there is a slide that you think is particularly interesting, feel free to take a picture of it and post as a tweet.  Include in the tweet why you think it was interesting.  This is a great technique for capturing slides with statistics that are more difficult to type.  It’s also nice to take a photo of the speaker while they are giving the presentation.  This will be useful for other social media outlets, websites, and organization newsletters.

Write notes about the presentation content

While you’re watching the presentation instead of writing notes on paper, write them into your Twitter feed.  There is no right or wrong answer to how many tweets you should have per talk, but you should have at least one for the presentation title / speaker and one which gives your overall opinion about the talk.  In every talk there should be at least one or two things that you find interesting.

Pose questions that occur to you

While you are keeping notes another good thing to put on twitter are questions that occur to you during the talk.  That way you can ask them at the end if they haven’t been adequately answered.  Maybe one of your Twitter followers will be able to answer or they’ll have questions of their own.

Record audience questions that you like

Typically at the end of a talk audience members will pose questions.  Sometimes these are interesting enough to record so if they are, be sure to tweet questions and responses.  This is the type of interaction that you can’t get in subsequent publications about the meeting.  It’s one of the unique, useful aspects of Twitter.

Record overall opinion if positive

When the talk is over, record what you thought of it.  Of course, you should remember that this is social media and everything you write on the Internet will be there forever.  I would suggest that if your opinion is positive about a specific speaker be sure to record that.  If you thought they sucked or their slides were bad, I wouldn’t post that.  You might save something for when the conference is over so your Tweet doesn’t call out any one speaker for being awful.  I know there are often presentations in which the speaker uses terrible slides or makes no sense.

Twitter is an excellent tool for tracking what is going on at events which you are unable to attend, and also great to remember what happened at events you went to.  Follow those tips and you will create a Twitter feed that is useful to both you and your followers.

And if you are interested in cosmetic science be sure to follow other cosmetic chemists on Twitter.


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