Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Health charity conferences: policy thoughts on liveblogging

Unless I can do some impressive editing, I'm brewing the world's largest blog post (already at 12 pages but I suspect I'll soon come to my senses).

It's really a guide or perhaps even a 'policy document' full of suggestions and practical tips on liveblogging (from the perspective of conference organisers at a health charity organising a conference for researchers and healthcare professionals) based on my having attended a few conferences where liveblogging / livetweeting has been done, and a fair bit of reading others' experiences online.

Hopefully the following are fairly standard but if I've missed anything please comment below or via Twitter (@JoBrodie).

Pretty much all of the recommendations and thoughts below are explained further in the large document, but I thought I'd drip feed this first to see if people disagree with the direction. I'll spruce them up for the final document, just 'getting them out there' for now :)

Some of my suggested recommendations
Decide if you are going to have a policy about liveblogging or leave things to take their own course. At the very least have a bit of a think about how your organisation might engage with delegates who blog about your conference, thinking about the (many) advantages and the (probably small) potential drawbacks.

Your policy might be of the type where you state that you will ask all delegates NOT to tweet (boo) or that you will leave well alone (yay, but only up to a point), but it's a lot better if it's nuanced and offers a 'code of conduct'. It also helps if it's findable on your website. It will undoubtedly benefit from input from staff in conference/events teams, social media people, science /research teams.

Develop an internal policy on how you will deal with any problem tweets or twitterers (unlikely, but not a bad idea to think through some eventualities) – ignore, engage, countertweet etc.

Assuming liveblogging will not be blocked, include in it a basic list of suggested Dos and Dont's for your conference (this may change depending on the type of conference). Encourage people to tweet appropriately and perhaps provide information on signing up to Twitter (eg see Twitter's help pages), or how to start a blog. Recommend that people use their real name so that others can find them but remind people that Google has an uncanny ability to record everything, so best not to pick fights.

Decide on a sensible hashtag, taking smartphone users into account. Remind people that their tweets can have greater reach if they pepper their tweets occasionally with the tagged health condition too, eg #cancer, #diabetes, as people will be following those words too.

Publish the hashtag on all conference material and refer people to your policy on conference liveblogging either on the web, or include a page in delegates' packs. Begin using the hashtag a few days (or weeks, if a major conference) before the conference so that the channel has content when people start to look for it, and to help build up a buzz about the conference.

Find out information about the wifi availability in the conference centre and make sure your staff at the event know the login and password, and that info about this is included in the welcome preamble. If this information can be shared in advance with delegates so much the better – even if they are not tweeting many will want to access the internet and their emails.

When at the venue, if you want to be really nice, develop and maintain a list of locations of power sockets :)

Use one of the Twitter archiving tools to record all the hashtagged tweets, publish it on your website as a PDF and alert delegates to its availability.

Use the hashtag yourself in your own corporate tweets, and share useful links / retweet other useful posts.

If your conference involves a question and answer session then you can take questions from people 'watching' at home, increasing engagement and reach beyond the delegates present. A number of conferences have occurred where the audience at home was larger than the number attending, because of social media.

Think about whether or not you want conference tweets to be displayed on a screen in the foyer or behind the speakers, but maybe let the speakers know.

If your conference has industry people at booths / stalls is it worth also having a stall selling spare cables, chargers and other computer / smartphone paraphernalia?

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

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