15 tweets for a better conference experience

You (or your institution) paid a lot to go to a conference, so it only makes sense to maximise the experience. Here are 15 tweets you can send in the lead-up, during and after a conference to level up your conference experience and get everything you can from it.

For me, Twitter is an essential part of a great conference experience. I can connect with people I wouldn’t normally meet, I can get a glimpse into parallel sessions (I wish I had a time-turner like Hermione!*), I can share the conference with people who can’t be there and I can jog my memory afterwards.  All of this conference good-ness comes through the use of the conference hashtag.

To be able to connect with other conference attendees ALWAYS use the conference hashtag when tweeting. You might be super lucky and have people following your feed to see what’s happening at the conference, but that’s normally the exception, not the rule. The way strangers (both at the conference and at home) find your content is through the conference hashtag. If you don’t know the hashtag then check the conference organiser’s Twitter account or search the conference name on Twitter**.

Here are 15 prompts (with example tweets) to make the most of your next conference – everything from planning all the way through to the end of a conference:

1. Submitting an abstract – it’s likely that people in your field follow you so tweeting about submitting an abstract is a good way to create a conversation about the conference and encourage others to attend.

2. Registration – express your excitement about an upcoming conference, let people know you’ll be there and that you’re keen to meet up. I find starting conversations with strangers intimidating, so chatting on Twitter before conferences allows me to make connections online then continue them in person. This often saves me from the awkward beginning of a conversation as we can skip straight to something we already know we have in common.

3. Acceptance for a talk or poster – express your thanks to the organisers and advertise your presence at the conference. If people know you’ll be at a conference the greater the chance that they’ll come to your presentation.

4. Preparing your talk or poster – this is a good way to get advice from other attendees or clarify the requirements (I didn’t follow the hashtag rule here, oops!).

5. On your way to the conference – a chance meeting in an airport with another conference attendee means when you arrive you’ll already know someone.

6. Excited for the start of the conference – let people know you’ll be there and tweeting while at the same time re-affirming the conference hashtag.

7. Poster location and/or talk time – there a lot of things happening at conferences, so don’t be shy about spruiking your talk or poster – tag people who you think might be interested or invite specific people to come to your presentation.

8. Tips for conference attendees – share something that could improve the experience of other conference attendees. For example, I write my Twitter handle on my name badge so people can make the link between me in person and my profile online. Or once we’ve chatted they can look me up on Twitter.

9. Live tweet the talks – try to tweet at least once per talk or poster you attend, or more if you can manage it. The golden rule is DON’T tweet unpublished work! The presenter may ask for some slides or sections not to be tweeted or you might need to work it out for yourself. (Live-tweeting is a skill you can develop, there’s a follow-up post on this coming soon!)

10. Conference events that are coming up or you have attended e.g. ECR events, student events, booths to visit.

11. Fun things that are happening at the conference e.g. lucky door prizes, competition entries for talking to vendors, ice breakers, themed merchandise.

12. Photo of yourself or with a person you met at the conference – tiny Twitter profile photos can make it hard to see what someone looks like, use this tweet to circumvent that problem.

13. Prizes awarded at the conference – show your support for an award recipient or share your excitement about receiving a prize.

14. Thanks for coming to my talk/poster – this is a great way to get your research in front of more eyeballs; I try to re-tweet someone who tweeted about my talk or poster.

15. Thanks to the organisers for running the conference. This is a great way to wrap up a series of conference tweets and express your appreciation for all the hard work that goes into organising these events.

The order of these tweets is not set in stone. Some conferences may not have some of these steps, others may have aspects that I haven’t mentioned – adjust your tweets according to the specifics of your conference. If you’re interested in trying live-tweeting, then stay tuned for a follow-up post that goes into this in more detail.

My main conference tweeting tip is to get in early and often to keep yourself in the forefront of the attendee’s minds. And as always, include a picture (where possible) to increase the reach and engagement of your tweets!

Most of all, have fun and experiment with conference tweeting to make the most of your conference experience!

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*Hermione is a character from the Harry Potter series who had a time-tuner which allowed her to travel through time and attend multiple classes that ran in parallel. ^

**The conference hashtag is usually set well in advance of the conference by the organisers, but if you can’t find one then get in touch with the conference organisers to suggest one ASAP. Highly likely they’ll be happy to put one in place as this is how people will find conference content. They don’t want people using multiple hashtags as this will dilute the impact. ^