#STEMSaturdays: Using Twitter as a Resource


In the past #STEMSaturdays has showcased how to use the social media platform Twitter and how to live-tweet at conferences (including your own talk). But there is so much more to this platform than just YOU tweeting. I truly do believe that Twitter is an untapped resource goldmine and want to share a few ways I use Twitter outside of my tweets – read on if you want to learn how to harness all that Twitter has to offer!




Twitter is not just for professionals – anyone can use it! That means you will probably interact with many people not  in your field. This means two things: 1) You need to leave the jargon out so everyone can understand what you are tweeting (keep the 140 character limit in mind) and 2) You will come across people’s tweets that you don’t understand! 


While you can be a teacher and discuss [x] with your audience, you can also be the student and learn from those you follow. 


I follow scientists from around the world, both in my discipline and out of it. It’s astounding what I learn in my discipline and mind boggling what I learn from scientists who are in a different field. I recently learned about how cool dung beetles are, how spiders react to different lights, and have witnessed the discovery of many different terrestrial animals! 


I tend to follow conference hashtags on Twitter too, so even though I’m not physically there, I can still learn about what is being said! In fact, I often end up learning about when conferences are to be held via this platform, allowing me to work my scheduling around them. This is how I stay up-to-date with the newest discoveries and papers, while many use the platform to keep up with the Kardashians. 


Speaking of papers, Twitter allows scientists to share their latest research through tweets or tweet threads—including their publications! A great way to make sure a wider audience is exposed to your discipline is by chatting about what you discovered in a tweet (protip: add a picture in your tweet). I love seeing what people in my field have been up to through this and allows you to send a “Congratulations!” for a job well done.




Twitter can not only allow you to disperse ideas to a large and diverse audience, but you can receive feedback or further information from said interactions. This includes networking! 


While most networking can happen face-to-face, Twitter has no time-cap on your conversation. This means you can “follow” a person for however long you want and continue to have multiple chats via the medium—essentially, you’re networking! Fun fact: This is how I know most of my colleagues! Most conferences now have a blank space in your name tag where you can put your twitter handle and it’s refreshing to see many familiar handles instead of just strangers. One conference I attended last September I had everyone I met say, “Oh! So YOU’RE @mcmsharksxx. You’re that Melissa.” It was pretty cool having people recognize my name- even if it was just because I was live tweeting the conference like mad. 


There are pros and cons to using the platform as a networking site. Many people toe the line of being solely a professional entity and also showing their personality… which can include a few profanities and funny pictures! Remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet forever. Make sure you think before you tweet- do you want future employers to see that? 


For myself, I tweet a lot about my specialty: sharks! But I am also known to showcase selfies, talk about my latest cooking endeavors, discuss politics, feminism, and more. This shows my followers that although I’m a scientist, I’m a human with diverse interests first and foremost. 


Twitter is the way most people I interact with know me from- and I make sure the impression I leave is a good one (though I apologize for spamming people with ice hockey team rants). 




Ever started a search (either for funding, internships, jobs, etc) and gotten completely overwhelmed? Me too! Twitter has helped alleviate some of that anxiety by allowing me to follow key organizations or people and be on the look-out for updates. 


From experience, the science community is great at retweeting opportunities up for grabs—from scholarships to fellowships to graduate school positions, they tend to advertise everything! I have a few colleagues who have gotten job positions from learning about them via Twitter, and I was made aware of great opportunities like TEDxWellington (see my talk here) through this platform. Be strategic in who you follow, especially because it can open the doors for you in more ways than one.


What are some ways you use Twitter in your career?


About the Author:

Melissa C Marquez is a marine biologist and science communicator based in New Zealand. She is the founder of the Fins United Initiative.  You can find her twitter here, and support her on Patreon here

#STEMSaturdays: Live Tweet Your Own Talk at a Conference!


So you want to live-tweet your own talk at a conference… well good news, you can!


If you want to make sure your audience takes away key information from your talk (or your thesis defense, outreach initiatives, etc.), you can make sure that the facts are coming from your twitter feed as your mouth is relaying the information. How? Well, you won’t be pausing the talk every few seconds to say, “Hold on, let me just tweet that.” Instead, you will be scheduling your tweets ahead of time so they will “air” during the pre-selected time of your talk. 


To my knowledge, there are two main platforms that my peers use: HootSuite and Buffer. I personally use Buffer as it’s free (up to 10 tweets a day- then you have to pay) and it’s easy to learn (I should preface this by saying that I have not had experience with HootSuite).


With Buffer, you can synch a number of your social media outlets to it. This includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and now Instagram (it gives you reminders to post your photo, and does not post your photo for you); there may be a few other platforms I’m missing, but these are the ones I primarily use. 


Step 1. Choose the platform you want to post your talk from. I usually do an “update” on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages telling my audience that I will now be giving a talk on subject x and to refer to my twitter feed (insert twitter handle here) for more information. After my talk I’ll give a quick synopsis again of these two pages.


Step 2. Choose the time zone you are in. My time zone varies; for normal Twitter scheduling, I’ll choose US eastern-time as my zone; for specific conferences, I will choose the time zone I’m in. For example, for my Tasmania conference, I chose the Tasmania time zone and started the first tweet from my allotted talk time start. 


Step 3. You have 10 (free) tweets to work with. Make them count. I usually dedicate one tweet to introducing my topic via presentation title; the rest of my tweets are usually one tweet = one slide. On tweets that have no graphs, charts, etc. on them I will attach a picture of my research animal(s) because everyone likes pictures. Make sure to credit photographer or have copyright on photo.


Step 4. Once you have your 10 tweets, schedule them. If your talk starts at 2:00 pm and is scheduled to end at 2:15 pm, make it so you have one tweet about every minute. 


Step 4a. Time yourself to accurately schedule your tweets! Practice your presentation and see around what time each tweet should roughly go out. The last few minutes I leave blank for questions from the audience.


Step 5. Advertise your talk. Make sure your audience (on Twitter) knows that you will be live tweeting your presentation at  x time so they can be sure to tune in and learn all about your awesome research!


Step 6. Make sure everything is working! Day of the presentation, make sure your scheduling is all set up and that your self live-tweeting can go without a hitch! 


Step 7. Retweet those who have tagged you or your talk. Their perspectives can sometimes shed a new point of view on your dataset! 


And that’s that! Good luck setting up your own live-tweeting.


Author’s Note: This post has not been supported nor sponsored by Buffer or HootSuite. All opinions are my own and without endorsement.


About the Author:

Melissa C Marquez is a marine biologist and science communicator based in New Zealand. She is the founder of the Fins United Initiative.  You can find her twitter here, and support her on Patreon here

#STEMSaturdays: Live Tweeting at a Conference


Conferences are a great way to impart a lot of knowledge on those who are attending. Yet, what if you want the greater community to know what you now know? Enter Twitter. With it being easily accessible on phones, tablets, and computers it allows you to share presentations live-time with only one catch: you have to say what you want to say in 140 characters or less.


I’d like to say I’m pretty good at live-tweeting presentations while at conferences. At a recent conference in Tasmania, I was known as “that twitter girl” when I was introduced to new people because the hashtag (we’ll talk about what this is below) was basically just me. Oops. #sorrynotsorry

In my defense, live-tweeting allows me to write down the information shared, serving as notes for me to refer to later on… it just happens to be notes on a public platform so others can learn as well!


Some things of live tweeting just can’t be learned or controlled. For example, I type very fast, allowing me to simultaneously type as the person speaks. Other times the venue doesn’t have internet, or has slow internet, practically eliminating your ability to live-tweet. And maybe it’s neither of those things and some presenters just aren’t comfortable with you live-tweeting their work (which is 100% okay), meaning you should put your phone away and just enjoy the presentation (or take notes via notebook). 


Here are some tricks I have that help me efficiently live-tweet:


  • Learn the hashtag of the conference. Save it to your phone. Whenever you go to a conference nowadays, they usually have a hashtag. A hashtag (#) is used on social media sites (especially Twitter) to identify messages pertaining to a specific topic. For example, if you look up the hashtag #sharks on Twitter, you 95% of the time will see tweets about the animal while the other 5% will be about the NHL team. Once the hashtag of the conference has been learned, use it on EVERY tweet that pertains to the conference- this includes any social functions, talks, tea times where you meet people, poster events, etc. I tend to save it on my phone so I can just “paste” it at the beginning or end of the tweet.


  • Be on the lookout for Twitter users. Some presenters will showcase their twitter handle at the beginning, end, or throughout their presentation. If so, add their username (for example, @mcmsharksxx) to your tweets pertaining to their presentation. Before the presentation starts, try to fit their presentation title in a tweet and who is the presenter (e.g. “Adrienne Cruz is next in room C: “The debate between coffee v tea” #FAKECONF17”). Say I was the one giving the presentation—your tweets should begin or end with “#FAKECONF17 @mcmsharksxx” so not only can you connect with me, but I can retweet (RT) your tweets and people can see that I was the only talking about x topic. If they don’t have a twitter (which does happen), add the last name of the presenter (e.g. “#FAKECONF17 Marquez”) to your tweets. I sometimes include what room of the conference I’m at because it lets people know I’m in a specific area (if they want to meet up) and what the ‘theme’ of the room will be for the time being.


  • Be mindful of those presenters who DO NOT want their presentation live-tweeted. Not everyone is keen on having their presentation –or part of it—aired on Twitter. Please be mindful of that and respect their wishes. Some will declare their presentations as twitter-friendly or not, and may even have “no photos” or “no tweets” signs on key slides that may have raw data and they do not want publicised just yet. If you have live tweeted a presentation and the presenter asks you to delete the tweets, please be respectful of their wishes and take it down immediately.


NO signs.JPG


  • Turn your phone noises down. Nothing more annoying than hearing your keyboard going “tick-tack” the whole time or hearing any other distractions coming from your direction. Be courteous of those presenting and silence your phone so those around you can enjoy the talk as well. On that vein of thought, if you happen to get a phone call during the presentation, excuse yourself and leave the room to take it. 


  • Make sure you are connected to WiFi (if available). Twitter takes up a lot of data. See if your conference venue has WiFi (usually conferences will tell you this ahead of time) and then find out the password. This is especially important if you are abroad—roaming charges are quite awful (and expensive). 


  • Make sure you have an extra battery. Twitter also takes up quite a bit of your battery power. I have a portable battery that I charge every night so that I can use it all up when I’m in a pinch. I always bring two charging cords (you never know when one might go missing) as well as a wall charger in case there are any working outlets (it helps preserve my portable battery’s power, too). These can be relatively cheap and found easily enough on Amazon or your local electronic store.  


  • Know the ways to conserve your phone/device battery. Every phone is different, so my tips may not work for you. However, putting my brightness level at its lowest setting, on night mode and with no other applications running in the background helps my battery last a wee bit longer. My phone also allows me to put it in “low battery mode” which “temporarily reduces power consumption… mail fetch, Hey Siri, background app refresh, automatic downloads and some visual effects are reduced or turned off.” My battery also allows me to see percentage so I know when to start to charge again. There’s also the option of not tweeting as much—and for some topics that I don’t feel qualified to speak on, or quote the person on, I don’t tweet. 


  • Reduce the jargon. You’ve got 140 characters to work with, and some of those are dedicated to the hashtag and the presenter’s last name or Twitter handle. Your followers may all not be ‘experts’ in this area, either, so make it easy enough so people of all background can understand. If there is jargon that cannot be avoided, define it to the best of your ability.


  • Take pictures of the slides. This is not always recommended (see “Be mindful of those presenters who DO NOT want their presentation live-tweeted” tip) but proves useful when taking pictures of diagrams, photos of set ups, graphs, etc. For those who have a hard time seeing images, make sure you describe the picture so they are not left out. Again, always make sure that taking pictures of the slides is okay with the presenter.


  • Live-tweet your own presentation. Want to make sure your audience has specific information as a take-away message? Tweet your own presentation! Presenters now have the opportunity to live-tweet their own talk—we’ll discuss this in the next #STEMSaturdays post.


And that’s that! Hopefully you can put these live-tweeting tips to good use in your next conference.


Do you live tweet at conferences? Do you find it useful?


About the Author:

Melissa C Marquez is a marine biologist and science communicator based in New Zealand. She is the founder of the Fins United Initiative.  You can find her twitter here, and support her on Patreon here