HealthManagement, Volume 17 - Issue 1, 2017

How Twitter is Changing the Congress Experience

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At, we use congress sessions as an opportunity to educate our Twitter followers. Twitter is more than just another social media platform. It enables users to transmit real-time information and it has changed how we receive and send out data. The internet has annihilated distances and places. We are in different countries at different moments, yet we can all communicate as if we were in one room. This is where becomes apparent – Twitter helps us provide live coverage at congresses and events.


Not only is it important how much we use Twitter but also how we choose to adapt our lives on the social media platform. It is incredible how mobile-dependent we have become. Mobile phones and tablets enable a much faster, smarter and easier experience compared to older and bigger devices. Twitter, for example is easier to use when you have a mobile phone as you are able to share whatever is happening at that moment. In fact, research shows that mobile phones are the most common devices used when accessing Twitter. DMR stats from November 2016 report (Expanded Ramblings 2016) found that approximately 257 million monthly users are currently on the social media platform.


Why is Twitter Essential to Healthcare Events and Congresses in Comparison to Other Social Media Platforms?


Twitter is an ongoing forum with news, information and research being posted by both everyday people and experts. Conversations are made between such individuals who are not in the same place or country. Just as we are able to receive worldwide news from different digital sources, we are also able to be at conferences that we cannot physically attend. Healthcare is a discipline that is changing at all times. New findings, research and news is available at every minute. Twitter has therefore become the ideal social media platform in healthcare.


The innovative use of Twitter at congresses is remarkable. Images, live videos, news findings, slides from presentations and backstage photos can be viewed under the official hashtag of the congress. It is impressive how organisers raise awareness before and during the congress by sharing tweets for those who cannot attend. They may not physically be there, but they are participating and engaging digitally. When you click on a hashtag feed for a specific congress, you are easily able to learn about different sessions that are taking place simultaneously, even in different rooms. You can also click on other hashtags that may be included in other posts, giving you more information about that particular topic.


You gain more insight on particular issues by having real-time interaction with other online congress participants. People of all diversities can communicate on Twitter. As medical congresses take place, patients are able to interact and communicate with doctors, medical institutions, lecturers, experts and leaders in the industry in one place at the same time. In fact, people no longer have to leave the house in order to visit a doctor anymore. We face a new reality where relationships are now digital and created online. and Twitter


At, we use congress sessions as an opportunity to educate our Twitter followers. We encourage both our followers as well as the congress audience to follow our feed. Our tweets direct our followers to our website where they can expand their knowledge on various healthcare topics. Generally, it is impossible to be active throughout all segments of a congress and it is difficult to transmit absolutely everything that is discussed and raised in each session. Nevertheless, Twitter is always at hand. You can “retweet” and follow other participants’ posts in your feed, making your Twitter account more active, and giving your followers something similar to read. You simultaneously become the sender and receiver of information.


One of the most useful online tools is Symplur. Although it established in 2011, Symplur has only grown increasingly popular among people and medical organisations over the past couple of years. According to Symplur, “Twitter hashtags are home-grown, without any rules, and without informing the rest of the healthcare community on Twitter what exactly your chosen hashtag means...By lowering the learning curve of Twitter with a database of relevant hashtags to follow, we hope to help new and existing users alike to find the conversations that are of interest and importance.” (Symplur 2016)


A great example occurred at the European Congress of Radiology 2016 (#ECR2016). The activity reached 5,436 tweets in a 5-day period. The Twitter users included healthcare product companies, media companies as well as individuals. More specifically, the congress had an average of 57 tweets per hour. By analysing this information, we noticed that each participant posted an average of three tweets during the period of ECR, among 1,937 Twitter participants. Last but not least, this hashtag had a staggering 25,549,078 impressions. This puts an emphasis on user engagement more than just the quantity of the tweets themselves.


The more tweets a congress publishes; the more engagement there is. Thanks to Twitter and its real-time updates, congresses become accessible events for those who are interested in them but cannot physically attend. Live coverage isn’t the only advantage of Twitter. Speakers and experts of different sessions become congress “brands” by trying to build a persona through Twitter. When someone has a very active Twitter account with a lot of engagement (Retweets and Likes), they are perceived as trustworthy, knowledgeable and prestigious. Speakers try to create trends in their specialty through hashtags which in turn, help them become the source for information in a particular field. Symplur plays a significant role in this process. The “Mentions” table in the statistics of a congress reveal who the key influencers are. This positively represents them, making them appear credible and important for an event.


As mentioned previously, Twitter is a unique social media platform. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn where the content and the frequency of posts may be limited, Twitter allows you to post more often, without bombarding your followers. The more you post on Twitter the more “modernised” you are.


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Key Points


  • Twitter is the new form of live coverage at congresses and events.
  • Congress organisers try to raise awareness before and during the congress by posting content online for the people that are not there, but who are participating and engaging digitally.
  •  There is real-time interaction with other online congress participants.
  • Speakers and experts of different sessions become congress “brands” by trying to build a persona through Twitter.
  • helps educate our Twitter followers about congress topics.
  • Symplur provides Twitter with a database of relevant hashtags to find and follow the conversations that are of interest and importance.
  • The more you post on Twitter the more “modernised” you are.


ExpandedRamblings (2016) Twitter Mobile Statistics (November 2016). [Accessed: 27 December 2016] Available from


Story M (2016) Twitter: The Future of Clinical Trial Recruitment. Symplur, 21 March. [Accessed: 27 December 2016] Available from

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