Soapbox: Kicking the ‘Tweet the Meeting’ habit

click to enlargeIt’s time to go cold turkey. One of the hallmarks of being active on healthcare tech or digital health scene is Twitter. Even more than LinkedIn groups, websites and blogs, it’s how increasingly we communicate with and acknowledge each other in the field. But it has its shortcomings. It’s become a chore to follow the tweetstream in my (deliberately limited) account, because there’s all that filler. I have to scroll…and scroll…to find the ‘wanna read’ nuggets by those who post ‘the good stuff’ (and you know who you are).

The volume increases dramatically during conferences. There’s good links and photos, but increasingly it’s become a festival of incidental remarks about speakers being on (sans content links), tweets about going here and there, social pictures of lunches and dinners, selfies. Increasingly, no one puts down their phone! At sessions, instead of being riveted (or not) on the speaker, attendees are glued to their phones, furiously keyboarding and tweeting…whatever. It’s insulting to the speaker who’s trying to engage with the audience, for starters. Then there are the meetings with the tweetstream posted to the side of the stage–another distraction.  Most of all, by furiously fingering, aren’t you cheating yourself of the conference experience for which you or someone has paid dearly? Isn’t the point of being there human contact and time off the screen?

Carolyn Thomas, Canada’s own ‘Ethical Nag’ and ‘Heart Sister’, describes kicking Obsessive Live-Tweeting at Conferences far more wittily in How we got sucked into live-tweeting at conferences. An excerpt:

For too long, I’d been telling myself:

–that live-tweeting isn’t a problem for me
–that I could quit anytime
–that the tweets I send to my Twitter followers while listening to a conference speaker onstage are actually interesting, high-quality messages
–that it must be okay because everybody else in the audience is doing it, too

But now I know that it’s time to quit cold-turkey.

Categories: Latest News, Opinion, and Soapbox.

Comments

  1. Hi Donna and thanks for your kind words about and link to my recent live-tweeting rant. I thought I’d already covered all my gripes about the subject but when I read your post, I realized that I’d forgotten a biggie: “…. there are the meetings with the tweetstream posted to the side of the stage–another distraction!”

    Of course! I spoke at a Vancouver conference in the spring (about medicine and social media) where I first encountered this “feature” while watching the presentation immediately before mine from the back of the conference hall. I quickly became mesmerized as the audience’s live tweets and retweets popped up one after the other in real time on the jumbo screen. Just as quickly, I virtually stopped listening to the poor schmuck onstage who was valiantly trying to engage his distracted audience (all eyes by now glued to the tweetstream).

    Sigh….

  2. Hi Donna,

    Interesting points but much of this is just down to poor use of filters eg. I think muting users on Twitter would improve your experiences:

    https://support.twitter.com/articles/20171399-muting-users-on-twitter

    I think it’s worth appreciating that just as there’s low quality tweeting there is also lots of good stuff that you can only get access to in the moment because individuals often talk more honestly because if they just stick to the corporate spiel delegates will walk out or criticise them for not bringing value to the meeting.

    Recently I experienced this when I and the conference organiser were badgered by a major Pharmaceutical giant to remove content that I’d been sharing on twitter and my blog as they expressly didn’t want this information being shared publicly.

    • Donna Cusano

      Hi David–thanks for your comments as always and thank you for the link. Search is something else I have to figure out. I discovered the ‘mute’ button fairly recently but was hesitant to use it. It helps. My ‘follow’ group is relatively small and I hate to miss anything, but…it’s TMI. Taking a look at Twitter features in terms of filtering is something now on my list.

      A bit much that the pharma giant didn’t want content shared ‘publicly’ yet were willing to present it at a conference. Once it is uttered from a stage, it IS public! It’s different than let’s say you and I having a private meeting with a company and being told X, Y is on background and not for public release.

      Yes there is ‘in the moment’ good stuff, but often drowned out in the inconsequential. As mentioned, there are the ‘wanna read’ tweets of people who use Twitter correctly, and you are in that number.

  3. “My ‘follow’ group is relatively small and I hate to miss anything, but…it’s TMI. Taking a look at Twitter features in terms of filtering is something now on my list”

    TMI (or “Too Much Information” for those at the back) is the big challenge facing the healthcare industry as mobile connectivity evolves the internet into a device dominated network and we try to extract value from data. I think you’ll find it’s well worth investing the time/effort as it will also help you see the opportunity that mHealth offers when we stop talking about unorganised data and start talking about actionable information.

    “A bit much that the pharma giant didn’t want content shared ‘publicly’ yet were willing to present it at a conference”

    Utterly confusing for me and just evidence that they haven’t yet begun to understand social media or what it means to be open about or share information and best practices. Ironically the act of asking me to take it down has attracted more interest in the info than it would’ve got otherwise:

    http://mhealthinsight.com/2014/03/25/take-aways-from-the-disruptive-innovation-in-clinical-trials-conference/

    It’s particularly sad that it was Roche as they are one of the big pharma brands that are the most vocal with social media marketing efforts and employees there should have a very good idea of the opportunities and challenges eg. they have moved their 90k employee back end systems over to Google’s cloud services…

    http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2012/02/roche-group-goes-google.html

    “Yes there is ‘in the moment’ good stuff, but often drowned out in the inconsequential. As mentioned, there are the ‘wanna read’ tweets of people who use Twitter correctly, and you are in that number”

    Thanks. I think you underestimate your skill in filtering the quality of tweeters ;)

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