How to Live Tweet and Why

On July 14, 2014, in Conferences, Monday Motivation, Tools, by gregorynpaziuk
Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Social media is so social these days. Sometimes, overly social. So much information is being shared in so many form(at)s that it’s easy to feel behind on the times. Not to be outdone, the IT crowd is always finding ways to make sharing information easier and more productive.

Within our own domains, academic institutions all over are finding ways to use outlets like Twitter and Facebook to stay connected to their audiences, and their audiences are staying informed in the process. That’s the rationale, at least, and it’s helped to make things like “live tweeting” exceedingly indispensable at academic gatherings of all kinds. We’ve talked about live tweeting on this blog before and have been known to partake in the activity from time to time, but do we all know what live tweeting is?

What Is Live Tweeting?

Live tweeting is a collective activity where individuals share live updates of an event they are attending with short excerpts, descriptions, and even pictures/videos. Micro-blogging tools like Twitter are the most common venue for this practice because they are designed for brevity, interconnectivity, and sharing. Predetermined or organically chosen hashtags help to collect related tweets to give followers a complete sense of an event, whether they’ve attended or not. Reaching out to the latter group has helped to grow discussions globally.

The How To’s

There are no shortage of perspectives on what makes a good live-tweeter. Many will tell you that the most important aspect of good live tweeting is the preparation – learning the event hashtag, reviewing resources you might want to share, etc.

Back in March, Camille Gamboa of Social Science Space shared her “how to” for those interested in picking up the live-tweeting hobby. In “How to Live Tweet at an Academic Event“, Gamboa emphasized preparation. She also shared Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s warning about the need to attribute information properly and to sense when information isn’t intended for broader public use.

If somebody says they’d prefer not to be tweeted or blogged, respect that. Whatever your feelings about the value of openness — and openness ranks very high among my academic values — not everyone shares them. While I have a hard time imagining giving a talk that I didn’t wish more people could hear, I know there are other scholars who are less comfortable with the broadcast of in-process material. And while I might like to nudge them toward more openness, it’s neither my place nor is it worth the potential bad feeling to do so.

ProfHacker shared their own “how to” earlier this year, which came with some helpful tips about things like text expansion.

You can save yourself a lot of time in tweeting if you make use of text expansion. When a person starts speaking, I create a snippet that looks like this “.@stewartvarner: X #mla14 #s402” and assign it the keyword “twt”. Then, I can simply type twt in my Twitter client and the speaker and hashtags are created automatically. The software even drops my cursor at the “X” so I can start typing right away. When the next speaker starts or when I move to the next session, I just update the snippet. It’s a little bit of work up front, but this is how live-tweeting contests are WON!

It’s important to give your followers a heads up that you’ll be live tweeting, too. In an article for TechReupublic, Erin Carson cites Jennifer Polk’s advice, saying

…give existing fans and followers notice that your brand is going to be posting about a particular event, so that the people who want to engage and follow along can, and the ones who don’t will know to check back in later, without any hard feelings.

Why Live Tweet?

Aside from that academic need to foster discussion and debate in all that you do, live tweeting is a powerful networking tool, especially at conferences and events where you may not know many people. Gamboa explains the networking component as follows:

By becoming a part of a larger conversation on Twitter, you get to meet a variety of interesting people connected to your work and you have the opportunity to hear their own personal views before you’ve a met them face to face. Later when you do meet in person, you will immediately have some good things to talk about.

There are lots of cool things you can do with a live tweet feed. From an organizer’s standpoint, apps like LiveTweet can help you to display developing conversations visually. Alicia Higgison at UWindsor’s Office of Open Learning has used similar tools like Storify to help archive the Network’s tweeting exploits in the past. From an audience’s perspective, in an age where tweets are as valuable and quotable as any other text, a live tweet feed that can be distilled for later use can provide useful data for future research.

Most importantly, as each of the sources above implore, don’t tweet just to tweet. The need for quality over quantity is never more relevant than when live tweeting, so make sure to share only what needs sharing.



How to Live Tweet at an Academic Event –

How to Live Tweet an Event: 7 Best Practices –

Ten Tips for Tweeting at Conferences –


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