A woman scrolling on her phone as typing bubbles appear

Scientific meeting attendees tend to face a similar problem: What happens when there are multiple sessions of interest occurring at the same time? They could duck in and out of different sessions to check them out, or attend one and turn to social media for updates on the others.

“Social media can be a great way to find out what happened in sessions that you weren’t able to attend, and it’s even better for people who can’t get to the meeting at all,” said Alexander McAdam, MD, PhD, medical director of the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. “It’s a terrific way for them to access the content or a summary of the content. That can help them decide what videos they want to watch after the meeting.”

Social media, used to share scientific and medical summaries and content, and alert attendees about social events, also creates a community around the professional organization and the meeting, he continued: “It builds people’s identification with the meeting and makes them more likely to come back next year.”

Meetings often have a few individuals live-tweeting during sessions, putting out some key concepts, and allowing others to be virtually present, added Daniela Hermelin, MD, medical director of transfusion medicine services at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, and assistant professor of pathology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

McAdam and Hermelin will be speaking at AACC’s Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in the session “Social Media in Laboratory Medicine: How to Build Your Presence and Your Career,” to be held July 25 at 2:30 p.m. McAdam will discuss how journals and professional societies can have a fun social media presence. Hermelin’s talk will discuss how social media is a skill for all ages.

Social media provides branding and broader exposure for scientific organizations, potentially attracting additional members, Hermalin said. On a personal note, people who tweet have a diary or documentation of their experience they can refer back to for scientific information or networking contacts.

Good posts should be relatively brief and hit only the high points of a talk or session, McAdam said. Aim for a 5-tweet maximum.

To manage information flow, Twitter users can personalize notifications to control the type of content they see, turn followers on and off or block them, and decide whether to share their location, Hermelin said. “People should take time to really understand the privacy and notification settings of Twitter, and enable them in a way that’s suitable for your life,” she said. “I always say, don’t let it be the tail that wags the dog, but the dog that wags the tail.”

Social media use among the laboratory medicine community has exploded, Hermelin said: “The pathology and laboratory medicine community is one that’s really anchored in high standards of education, and is very warm and inviting.” A subset of laboratorians have been using Twitter and other social media to advocate for laboratory technology, standards and legislation, and awareness of laboratory roles in health care, she said. One hashtag that has evolved is #labvocate.

 “Social media is not just for young people,” she said. “In fact, we want the seasoned attendings and technologists to be involved, because we need their expertise to help elevate the level of knowledge, experience, and quality of information on Twitter.”

Follow tweets from thousands of attendees at this year's meeting using the #2022AACC hashtag. And be sure to follow AACC.

Karen Blum is a freelance medical and science writer who lives in Owings Mills, Maryland. +Email: [email protected]