We are just days away from the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), being held in Philadelphia this year. But we are already weeks into the buzz about it on Twitter. The hashtag for the conference, #AANAM, started showing up in early April in tweets from organizers, speakers, and future attendees.

Here is one:

Tweet by David Evans about AANAM

The author of this tweet, David Evans, MBA (@davidevanstx), is a healthcare executive we interviewed for a post about practice management after he spoke at the AAN conference in 2018. What he and other #AANAM users know is that using Twitter before, during, and after a medical conference is a terrific way to leverage the platform. It is a unique opportunity to make your voice heard and to get value from the conference beyond the days you attend.

The AAN is so enthusiastic about this added value that they have set up a virtual scavenger hunt (with prizes) to encourage the use of Twitter and Instagram during this year’s conference. There is more information on this as well as their other tips and tricks in this guide to using social media during the annual AAN meeting.

Attendees using mobile phones during conference session

If you are new to social media in general or Twitter more specifically, now is a great time to give it a try because you’ll get big bang for your effort. By taking part in activities like AAN’s scavenger hunt or otherwise using the hashtag #AANAM in your tweets, you will be tapping into a larger-than-usual group of your peers eager to share and connect. You may even find out about special events or meetups not included in the official conference program.

It isn’t often that so many people who share your specific professional interests are gathered in person at the same time and place. Yes, you will meet people in the sessions and probably even in line for Starbucks in between, but by using a social media platform like Twitter, you can find even more members of your tribe. “Tweetups” are one way to do this.

Tweetups

A tweetup is an in-person meeting on a specific topic that is arranged ahead of time on Twitter.  It is an opportunity to turn virtual colleagues into real ones. “Tweetups” are easily arranged. Jeff Kraakevik, MD (@ohsuneuro), a neurologist and early adopter of social media, says, “At the last Movement Disorder Society meeting we had a ‘Tweetup.’ There were maybe 10 people who showed up—a bunch of movement disorder neurologists.” And if you know anything about how niche this field is, 10 is quite a good showing. Kraakevik says that meetups like this can expand your professional network and lead to new opportunities.

Live Tweeting

Live tweeting is another way to make use of Twitter during a conference. Here, a session attendee tweets out some particularly insightful or cogent argument made by a speaker, in real time. The tweet should include the speaker’s name and Twitter handle (ex; @ohsuneuro) if they have one, and the hashtag for the event. Here is an example of a live tweet from a session on stroke care at the 2018 AAN meeting:

Tweet from Mayo Clinic during AAN meeting 2018

Expanded Session Discussions

You know how at the end of a really good session, there is usually a line of people waiting to ask questions? You probably also know that there often isn’t enough time to get to everyone. Twitter offers a way to expand discussions on hot topics beyond the session’s time slot. If the speaker is on Twitter, you can probably even ask them your question directly. This way everyone who reads it can benefit from your one-one interaction.

Expanded discussions are usually precipitated by some of the live tweets made during a session. Using relevant hashtags and twitter handles, these discussions are opened up to more people through simple exposure on Twitter. Experts in the field—even those unable to attend the conference—from across the globe may weigh in, expanding the discussion even further.

Professional woman outdoors typing on mobile phone

There is no doubt that the use of social media in and around medical conferences can be a really good thing. And its use is becoming increasingly popular. However, like most things medical, it does not come without a few warnings. Everything you put out there on Twitter is public, so you need to conduct yourself in a professional manner and follow HIPAA guidelines.

Come By and Say Hi at AAN 2019

We, the creators of the Neurology Insights blog (#neurologyinsights) will be at the AAN conference this year, and we’d love to meet you! Come by the Ambu booth in the Exhibit Hall and say Hi. While you are there, we’ll be offering quick, 5-minute tutorials on how to utilize our free patient education newsletter. This unbranded newsletter focuses on a different topic each month, and provides your patients with helpful information in short, easy-to-read articles along with a patient education video.

We hope to see you there!