On the 26th June UWS held their annual Learning, Teaching and Research conference online and I was tasked with live tweeting the event. I have live-tweeted events before, mostly conference talks or seminars I attended in person. Live tweeting is a good way to summarise messages for myself and at face-to-face events it often led to meeting people who were also tweeting about the same talk. It also increases participation as people who might not be able to attend the event in person can follow some of the discussion or check-in later.
Before the conference
Tweetdeck is a great way to manage your social media and I use it a lot to schedule tweets for the UWS Academy account. Since the online conference had no parallel events, I just scheduled key tweets for overall welcome, for each speaker, break times and a thank you tweet at the end. I also decided to pose some of the discussion group questions on twitter for a Twitter chat. You can add pictures and gifs to your scheduled tweets in Tweetdeck including alternative text for screen reader users, but you can’t thread any tweets.
During the event
The columns in Tweetdeck are great to monitor different things at the same time. I opted to see notifications, the conference hashtag and the account main page. Once a scheduled tweet was sent, I could then add tweets to this tweet to form a thread. I opted for threads to keep related information about a talk or workshop together. These tweets can be easily referenced by linking to the first tweet and it makes it easier for people to know how things relate to each other if they’re not following live.
Live tweeting is quite daunting not only do you have to portray the message almost immediately and within a character limit but you also have to keep listening to what’s being said so you can compile the next tweet. Years of science communication and public engagement have paid off here as I learned to quickly get key messages and re-phrase them. Since Twitter doesn’t have an edit button some of my tweets ended up with typos, nothing was too bad and most of the tweets went out ok. But you have to type fast, keep listening to the next message and try to keep an eye on other people’s tweets to either engage with or retweet. It’s not easy but it is manageable. Unless your partner decides to ask you about dinner – that proofed one too many things. I recommend a quiet and disturbance free space if possible to have the head space for live tweeting.
Having key tweets scheduled was great but one of the talks ended surprisingly early and went into the Q&A session before the scheduled Q&A tweet. I decided I didn’t want to wait for my Q&A tweet to be posted so I just added the Q&A part to the thread and then linked to it once the Q&A tweet was posted. Most other timings worked out perfectly.
After the event
I double checked some tweets and retweeted some participants tweets I had missed before and I had to post a correction where I got a Twitter handle wrong. But overall the live tweeting went well. When I decided to write up the conference in a blog post it really helped to have had that level of engagement with the conference. I remembered so much about the discussions and my own thoughts that it was surprisingly easy to write the post. I used the threads as reminders but overall, I did write a lot from memory. I’m not sure if this would have been as easy without live tweeting the event.
As I said on Twitter this was the most exciting and exhausting time I spend on twitter. The mix of scheduling tweets with known times helped and the being able to do everything on Tweetdeck worked very well. I maybe could have left the Q&A tweets off to allow for more flexibility with timings of talks as the time allocated for Q&A sessions can be used to get things back on track. I need to work on my touch-typing skills and possibly turn off autocorrect, so typos stay typos and don’t corrected into another word. This exercise really showed me the benefits of live tweeting for comprehension and retention and I will definitely look into ways to take some of this into my notetaking practice.