Beyond the Basics of Tweeting

01 Sep 2016

By Heather Yeo

As we continue to explore social media in academic and clinical medicine at AWS this month we wanted to create a practical guide for physician clinicians and researchers interested in tweeting at academic meetings or participating in a tweet chat.  This goes slightly above the twitter basics.  For beginners, we recommend you also check out some social media guidelines and best practices.  twitter pic

Why participate in live tweeting a meeting?

Information sharing/learning

When you are at a conference with multiple presentations of interest, you cannot be in two rooms at once, twitter allows you to monitor what is being presented in other sessions. The benefit of twitter is having access to multiple presentations virtually, when you can only attend one room in reality. Twitter’s short 140 characters allow for easy spread of simple messages – like most headlines. To understand full research, you may still need to review methods, but at least you can get key points and info on authors who do work of interest to you.

Twitter allows presenters to share their findings to people unable to be present at a conference.

Discussion between people interested in the topics

By using #(hashtags) individuals can follow topics that are of interest to them and have a discussion with other also interested (people both at the meeting and those who couldn’t attend)

  • Networking

By “tweeting” and following tweets related to meetings you can find others with similar research interests, this can be great for collaborative research efforts.

  • Lack of hierarchy

Personally, I think one of the most interesting things about twitter, is the accessibility it offers to young researchers to more experienced thought leaders.  I am always a bit starstruck when a physician whose research/skill I respect responds to a tweet.  Medicine itself is hierarchical, but social media offers opportunities to respectfully break down some of those barriers.

Guidelines for Meeting Tweeting

  • Warn your followers at the start of a meeting

If you are going to be live tweeting a meeting, it is a good idea to let your followers know so they can mute you if need be, or at least have an idea of why you are tweeting so much in a short amount of time.

An example: Headed to #ACS2017 – planning on live tweeting – apologize in advance for the flurry of tweets for those not interested, feel free to mute.

Use the registered hashtag for the meeting so it ends up in the right place. will have most of scientific meetings, you can also see the meeting stats there. Some upcoming meetings we hope you will consider tweeting about

  • #AWS2016 – The 2016 Association of Women Surgeons Annual Meeting
  • #ACSCC16 – The 2016 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress
  1. Use Images to help to gain visibility – but if you take pictures make sure you can read a slide or see the speaker
  2. Try to summarize the findings, acknowledge the presenter (this can be done by tagging them using the @ sign-if it is at the start of a tweet use .@ or you tweet will only be visible to that person.
  3. If your reply is of general interest may be better to retweet and comment attached to a specific tweet from another user.

Why participate in a tweet chat or journal club?

Many of the advantages are similar to participating in a meeting.

  • Information sharing/learning

A tweet chat is a great way to share your ideas or research with people who are directly interested in a topic. You can reach larger audiences in a short amount of time.  Top thought leaders come together and have a conversation.

  • Networking – Some people have compared twitter to a large cocktail party with many conversations going on. By participating in a tweet chat you are discovering  who at the party is interested in your topic/s of interest.
  • Lack of hierarchy


Again, here physicians (from med students to senior attendings), nurses, patients can all come together to talk about a topic on the same level.

Take Home Guidelines for participation in a Tweetchat

  1. It is okay to just “listen” or “lurk” – just type the name of the tweetchat (eg. #AWSchat) in your twitter search bar or click on the hashtag of the tweetchat you are interested in.
  2. Let your followers know you will be participating – a flurry of random tweets can annoy people unless they know why you are tweeting, they can be beneficial if it is a topic of interest to people who are following you.
  3. Introduce yourself or say hello to people you know on the chat.
  4. Read the questions before hand, think before you tweet–more is not better.  It is ok to have some pretyped tweets and send them at the appropriate time when a question is being discussed.
  5. If you like other tweets retweet or like them.
  6. Always tag the chat and the question number-it makes it easier to follow the conversation in the final transcript or when you are trying to respond to something it helps with context.  HCLDR is a great weekly tweetchat focused on healthcare leaders. So you would use #HCLDR to have your tweet listed in their chat and type T1 (for 1st topic) or Q1 for first question at the start of your tweet.

A reminder.  Your tweets are searchable and generally not private, so do not post anything that you will regret later.  Be professional, do not give personal medical advice. It is ok to have a personal component to your tweets, just know that the world is watching.

Happy tweeting! We hope you join us at #AWS2016 in Washington D.C. this year!

heather yeo

Follow me on twitter @heatheryeomd

Heather Yeo, MD, MHS, is Assistant Professor of Surgery and Assistant Professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College and Assistant Attending Surgeon at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is board-certified in general surgery, colon and rectal surgery and complex general surgical oncology. Dr. Yeo specializes in the comprehensive care of colorectal cancer patients as well as those patients with benign colorectal disease. She is particularly interested in the role of innovative technologies in patient care and is currently researching and developing mobile apps for surgical patients.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

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