Update: Twitter at Conferences

In a previous post, I mentioned the initiative by the Academy of Management at the 2012 Academy of Management (AoM)  meeting to promote live Twittering during conference sessions. The listing for each session in the conference program included a hashtag for the session, assigned by the conference organizers, to encourage attendees to send Tweets about the session and the presentations.

The conference ended this past Tuesday (August 7), so I thought I’d look on Twitter to see whether or how the AoM hashtags were used. I chose seven sessions at random from the conference program – five sessions of paper presentations, one field trip, and one professional development workshop. I suspected that there wouldn’t be much Tweeting from the professional development workshop or the field trips, as people would likely be taking notes for themselves or following a tour around.

However, after searching on Twitter, I was unable to find any Tweets with the assigned hashtags for any of the seven sessions I chose. Maybe there weren’t a lot of attendees at these sessions – I wasn’t there, so I have no way of knowing the numbers – or maybe the attendees didn’t want to Tweet or preferred to have their discussion at the session itself.

But I think I also may have found another reason why the hashtags weren’t used. They were listed in the program in this format: “#AOM2012 123” (with “123” being the identification number assigned to the session). But when a hashtag is entered into Twitter in that format, the hashtag is displayed as only the characters before the space. So if someone typed a tweet as “#AOM2012 123 great session!” it would have been sent as “#AOM2012 123 great session!” I found a couple of sets of Tweets in this format, but only came across them randomly while searching the #AOM2012 Twitter feed.

So yes, there was some session Tweeting, but it looks like most of those Tweeting at the conference were promoting their own work (or their products, if they were an exhibitor), publicizing social events, or commenting on the host city (Boston) and the conference in general.

The idea of encouraging Tweets from conference sessions has a lot of potential, though – especially for a large conference like AoM. The average attendee can’t possibly attend everything they would like to, and there are also other people who can’t be at the conference but would like to follow what’s going on. So if AoM plans to repeat its Twitter experiment for next year’s conference (which I hope it will), it clearly needs to revise the format for its session hashtags – to make sure they work.

And in the course of investigating the AoM Twitter activity, I came across this great article on the etiquette of live-Tweeting at conferences. Thanks to CV Harquail for sharing it!


  1. Thanks for the recap. This was actually the 2nd year we tried out the session hashtag idea. Honestly, I feel there were more session specific tweets last year – though as you noted, there was some this year. Overall, there were more tweets this year. Some self-promotional – though many more sharing in what was learned (even without the session hashtag). We do want to continue to promote the idea of session specific tweeting and are open to ideas on it! We are greatly appreciative of our Twitter followers and those who contributed so greatly to the Twitter Stream. And also to CV Harquail for being a year-round Twitter source (and as it happens, an impromptu leader of the AOM Tweetup!). We do keep a list on our Twitter account of our AOM members who do tweet. And do have the #AOM2012 stream saved for review, if needed. Looking forward to #AOM13 and the year in between to follow these great folks!

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