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My totally epic hashtag fail

In September, I attended the 5th International Symposium on Animal Functional Genomics where I gave a talk on New applications of genomic technology in the US dairy industry and presented a poster titled Genomic evaluation of low-heritability traits: dairy cattle health as a model. I thought it would be a great idea to talk about the meeting on Twitter using the #5ISAFG hashtag. I've done this before at other meetings, and I've also used HootSuite to schedule Tweets for posting during my talks. That's not how it worked out, even though put a sign on my poster asking people to use the hashatag. In fact, I'm the only person who used it. Here are a few thoughts I've taken away from this experience:

  • Work with the organizers: There needs to be material in the program and on the website about meeting-specific hashtags, and it should be mentioned during morning announcements. That way people actually know that's a way they can talk about the meeting.
  • Consider the Internet situation: Our hotel had web access available, but it wasn't free and the signal was dodgy on the edge of the property where the conference center was located. It was slow an dropped fairly often, making it an exercise in frustration. Most of the attendees weren't from Brazil, so we didn't have access to Twitter using our phones.
  • Know your audience: I assumed, with no evidence to support it, that young scientists know about Twitter, and think about it as a tool for communicating about science. There may be differences between disciplines as far as this goes, and a better-organized effort to demonstrate how useful Twitter can be in this context might have helped kindle some interest.

I like what's going on with the @realscientists account, and C. Titus Brown and others are doing great work using Twitter to communicate about science. If you want to be more successful than I was, planning is (as always) the key.