Twitter in Medicine, Part 6: Live-tweeting the medical conference

Live-tweeting requires a lot of trust. To be effective there’s much to be said about the need to loosen up, focus on the moment, and breathe. I am speaking as much to myself as to you.

Live-tweeting means posting comments about the event while the affair is happening, in real time, not just one tweet, but a string of tweets.1-4  For me this has several benefits – helps me to focus, to listen, and maybe best of all, provides a kind of event note-taking that even crowdsources others to help me while they tweet the same subject.

Kinds of tweets

To begin here are the types of live-tweets you might post during a conference:3

  • A key point or a summarizing statement
  • An amplifying comment, for example adding a journal citation
  • Just a comment or a question on the topic
  • Something fun, insightful

Don’t forget to make the tweet easy to retweet, keeping it short so others can add your name. Be sure to credit the speaker, too, for example, “Dr. Zipkin said such and such.” Use the person’s handle if available so others can see their portrait and bio.

Pearl: is there an area of research focus for you? E.g., health disparities? Then consider that your followers may expect to see your tweets on this topic.

Other ideas: attach a speaker slide photo with your key point. Use photos of people. These always get attention. Maybe tweet beforehand the room location of your upcoming workshop or panel presentation. Notice if anyone is live-blogging. You may want to share the link.

Importance of hashtags

A hashtag is important for two reasons: (1) to click on the tag to see immediately all the tweets for that topic. This not only broadens your view but using the tag broadens your own exposure. And, (2) to understand that conference tweeting with the hashtag like #SGIM15 allows collating data by companies like Symplur where we can see top tweets, top mentions, demographics, and analyze the results such as the reach of tweets in the twittersphere, and so on. If you don’t use the hashtag people can still search on key words, even “SGIM”, it’s just that those tweets won’t be counted and really won’t show up in the stream of #SGIM15.

Here are hashtags particularly relevant to the SGIM annual meeting:

#SGIM15 The official 2015 annual meeting hashtag registered at Symplur where you will find lots and lots of data about Twitter activity during the conference. Notice that it’s not “#SGIM2015”. Remember the shorter the hashtag the better. It’s “#SGIM15” without the “20”.
#MedEd Medical Education, popular in many circles, even includes a weekly chat led by @MedEdChat on Thursdays, 9 pm ET. ICYMI here, too: This week’s topic was “burnout”.
#hcsm Stands for “healthcare social media”; used by many to identify the tweet as related to this topic

Extra tips

  • Keep a list of twitter handles (handle means your twitter name) to have at your fingertips for SGIM 2015 (maybe store in your Notes app). Here are a few, including some of our Duke presenters:
The Society of General Internal Medicine @societygim
Duke General Internal Medicine @Duke_GIM
Duke Medicine @Duke_Medicine
Daniella Zipkin, MD @evidencebasedmd
John Williams, MD, MHSc @jwileyj
Joel Boggan, MD, MPH @joelboggan
Jonathan Bae, MD @jonbae01


No doubt there will be others you may want to “mention”, for example: the executive of PCORI, Joe Selby, MD, MPH @joevselby.

  • Consider using another twitter client, one especially for live-tweeting where it’s possible to schedule messages for posting later, for example, readying to post your presentation room location just beforehand.Try TweetDeck, supported by Twitter. It’s free. You can view within the web browser rather than a stand-alone app. The user interface is easy and you can keep #SGIM15 streaming in view. It’s even possible to share with a team like the 3 of us @Duke_GIM without having to share our password.


Preparation details and ideas

I suggest that you bookmark this post. Come with your mobile devices fully charged. And, find a good seat.

This may be more that you want to do but you could also prewrite tweets. I’ve been known to use the Notes app on my iPad for this when I was traveling as a speaker for Duke/Med-IQ. This way I can at least quickly cut & paste text like “#SGIM14 @societygim @Duke_GIM.” Nowadays I want some experience with TweetDeck where I can draft and post later.

Thank you’s

At the close of the conference a nice touch is to publicly thank the staff/organization for the conference. Also, thank your fellow tweeps for connecting at #SGIM15.

And, we thank YOU – especially those already retweeting our series: @DrDeborahFisher @Nephro_Sparks @Duke_GastroHep, @cabreraERDR, @JasAWebb, @cancerassassin1

We hope you will mention us for this series about Twitter in Medicine, our effort to prepare for SGIM 2015, just the basics of tweeting. This is our last post for now though I admit I am interested to review “twitter chat” and “twitter journal clubs.” Should we do that? Thanks and happy tweeting! @mbadams @Duke_GIM

Earlier posts in the Twitter in Medicine series:

Part 1: Interested in twitter in medicine?

Part 2: Setting up an account

Part 3: Who should you follow?

Part 4: Will anyone read my tweet?

Part 5: “Where’s the beef?”


  1. “Tips for live tweeting an event” by Susannah Villa (last viewed 4/10/15)
  2. “Beyond the Buzz: live tweeting the medicine X experience” by Marie Ennis-O’Connor, posted 9/19/14 (last viewed 4/10/15)
  3. “The art of live-tweeting” by Christopher Long. 9/16/2013 (last viewed 4/10/15)
  4. “Ten simple rules of live tweeting at scientific conferences” by Sean Elkins and Ethan Perlstein
    PLoS Comput Biol. 2014 Aug; 10(8): e1003789.
    Published online 2014 Aug 21.doi:  1371/journal.pcbi.1003789
  5. 15 Reasons Twitter is Worth Physicians’ Time” by @leeaase, Mayo Clinic, posted 4/15/15 and added to this post 4/18/15 via tweet by @Berci