Today’s post on livetweeting a conference comes from Eliza N. She is an editor who lives and works in Salt Lake City. She grew up in the Midwest and misses the cornfields. When she’s not working, reading, or watching Netflix, she enjoys running, playing volleyball, and hanging out with her dog. Eliza tries her best to follow these Twitter tips @EtotheNev.
You can see the archived tweets from #MHA2016 at the links provided at the bottom of the page! If you have tweets we missed please post them in the comments. If your tweets or session appear in the links below, please share on Twitter and Facebook (and tag either @MormonHistoryJI or our Facebook page).
Etiquette for Tweeting a Conference, or Seven Tips for Making Your Live-Tweet Game Sizzle
As younger generations and technology invade academia, audiences for conferences like this past weekend’s Mormon History Association’s grapple with what the heck certain platforms are and how to use them. Perhaps the most popular for MHA, Twitter is a useful and fun tool that might baffle newcomers. It takes time to learn its tricks, cadence, and inside jokes, but we can help you catch up on some of the particulars for live-tweeting a conference like MHA.
Tip 1: Learn Twitter’s technical quirks.
If a tweet starts with a Twitter handle (that @[name] thing), the tweet will be treated as a reply directly to that handle’s account, and it will therefore only be seen by that recipient and in that recipient’s followers timelines. If you want the tweet to be publically viewable (showing up in all of your followers’ timelines and not just in those who follow the handle being mentioned), you have to put some kind of punctuation or a space before the handle at the beginning of a tweet. This will eat into your character count, so another option is to rephrase the tweet so the handle is not at the beginning.
It’s also useful to learn how to thread your tweets. This means replying to your own tweets (delete the @ reply handle so it’s just a blank draft) so that tweets on one subject are connected in one chain, making it easier to read a tweet storm that’s all part of one thought or conversation. This also helps cluster the tweets and prevents too much cluttering up of the feed.
— J. Spencer Fluhman (@spencerfluhman) June 11, 2016
Tip 2: Learn your hashtags and use them wisely.
Most conferences have a commonly used or even an official hashtag. Check conference materials for an official hashtag, or do a quick search on Twitter to see what hashtags are already in common use.
opening mission calls: intersection institutional and lived religion. Moves from private to public sphere #MHA2016
— Saskia (@SaskiaTielens) June 11, 2016
Be thoughtful in your use of the conference hashtag. Consider whether your tweet is relevant to the wider record and conversation on the hashtag or whether it might be better for your specific followers. You may want to save snark and sass for your followers (who know your pet issues and sense of humor) and avoid bruising feelings or burning bridges on the hashtag. Also consider the timing on the hashtag. A goofy or funny tweet that might be harmless could seem in poor taste if what’s live on the hashtag is heavy or intense in some way. (You’ll need to be aware of what sessions are in progress while you’re tweeting, or you can check the hashtag stream and see what’s being tweeted live at the same time you’re thinking about tweeting a joke.)
Tip 3: Gifs, Memes, and Videos!
A fairly recent new feature on Twitter is that you can search for and embed gifs right in your tweet drafts. Twitter’s gif database is pretty good, and it’s easily searchable by tags. I can usually find the perfect gif for the situation after very little scrolling, but the nature of the database means that you’ll also run into some pretty weird gifs on occasion. Be very thoughtful about the kinds of gifs you choose to use. Avoid gifs that are insulting to people of color, women, and other marginalized groups. (This ought to go without saying, but hey, the internet gives humans a lot of opportunity to do weird and terrible things.)
— Mormon History Association (@MormonHistAssoc) June 10, 2016
— Stephen Smoot (@Stephen_Smoot) June 11, 2016
— Mormon History Association (@MormonHistAssoc) June 10, 2016
Tip 4: Give your followers visuals.
If a presenter took the time to put together PowerPoint slides, try to take the time to snap pictures of the slides (be careful to get good shots!) so that followers can get the visual context as well as reading your written descriptions of presentations as you live-tweet.
— J (@jstuart__) June 9, 2016
Pictures of presenters speaking are also great for giving followers a sense of what it’s like to be at the conference.
— Jon Whitestone (@aaaandImaMormon) June 11, 2016
— Benjamin Park (@BenjaminEPark) June 12, 2016
Tip 7: Include presenters’ names in tweets.
When live-tweeting a conference presentation, include the presenter’s handle, name, or initials (gotta watch that character count!) at the end or beginning of tweets. As specific tweets get retweeted and as the conference hashtag feed gets perused later, it’s nearly impossible to place tweets in context of which presentation they came from if there’s no identifier.
Tip 5: Everything in its sphere: Facebook is not Twitter.
Both social media platforms have their benefits, but don’t try to use one for what the other is meant for. In short: don’t try to live-tweet on Facebook. It just clutters up your friends’ Facebook feeds and gets annoying.
Tip 6: Be consistent.
Because of Twitter’s quickly moving live-feed nature, consistency is key. The beauty of Twitter is the way you build a community with who you follow and who follows you. If you only tweet at a conference and your account sits dormant for the other 51 weekends of the year, you’re not going to have a good Twitter community and no one will notice when you do tweet. You don’t have to be a Twitter fiend, but try to have consistency in your tweeting life.
These two are the Mormon History Association resident live-tweeting pros. Peruse their timelines (especially their #MHA2016 tweets) for great examples of how to handle live-tweeting a conference as well as great not-conference tweets.