Posted in #HCSM

Why You Should Live-Tweet Your Next Conference

What is Live-Tweeting?

Live-tweeters use the hashtag relevant to the event they are tweeting about (which can usually be located on the conference’s website or Twitter profile). Twitter followers who cannot be at the event in person can follow along using the hashtag and this in turn expands the reach of the conference.

Live-tweeting enhances personal learning

Live-tweeting can also enhance your own personal learning as it requires you to listen more carefully and focus more sharply on the key details of a talk in order to better summarize what the speakers are saying. Furthermore, live-tweeting is a means of amplifying the conference experience, generating global reach and stimulating collaborative potential.

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This learning is further consolidated with an archive of tweets on which you can reflect further after the event.  Sarah Chapman, whose work at the UK Cochrane Centre focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, observes how this in-the-moment tweeting captures the immediacy and energy of the event: “Live tweeting can convey the atmosphere generated by a controversial or entertaining presentation in a way that will be lost by the time you get to look at the slides uploaded on the internet”.

Many times the original tweet will be supplemented by pertinent comments on Twitter from other conference attendees and also from those listening in online.  For example, someone may respond to a tweet by questioning the strength of the clinical outcomes of a study, or a practicing physician might respond with their experiences treating patients.  As a review published in J. Clin. Med. states: “The diversity of expertise and backgrounds that can communicate on Twitter is unique, and this exchange of information can be extremely beneficial.”

Live-tweeting enhances virtual learning

Reporting live from a medical conference or event allows you to provide valuable insights to those who are unable to attend in person.  Due to rising costs, concern about our carbon footprint and increasing time commitments, virtual attendance is becoming more commonplace at healthcare events – hence the rise in live-tweeting.

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There are enumerate conferences and symposia to choose from these days, and that choice often becomes impossible due to the sheer diversity. Following attendees using meeting, hashtags permits in real-time remote access to the meeting, viewed through their interest / opinion spectrum. Wong, Wilkinson & Malbrain, Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care!

Mark Brown, a UK-based mental health advocate, points out that “There have been many recent publications and events imploring us to have a national conversation about mental health.  Why then do so many fascinating discussions happen at conferences, uncaptured and inaccessible to people wanting to join them?”

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Brown believes “this democratisation of access is vital if we want to broaden our mental health discussions and raise the level of sophistication in our arguments and debates. For this to happen we need some brave souls who know how to cover an event via live tweeting and who are prepared to do so out of a sense of public service.”

You might also like to read Make Your Mark at Medical Meetings with Social Media


This is the first in a two-part guide to live-tweeting.  In part 2,  I will share my tips for best practice in live-tweeting. Whether you are a conference organizer, a speaker, or an attendee these tips will help you make the most of the opportunity to report live from your next event.   

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