Honest question for our Twitter-using readers, from a non-tweeter: what’s the point of conference hashtags?
I ask because yesterday I noticed that #BES2015 was trending on Twitter and so checked out the hashtag. Which I quickly decided was pointless. There were a massive number of tweets about a massive range of stuff. Mostly single tweets summarizing talk X, sharing a smartphone pic of the speaker delivering talk X, or just saying talk X was awesome. Also some tweets from people promoting their own talks and posters. Crucially, hardly any of them were leading to Twitter conversations, or getting retweeted, or even favorited. So I have no idea how you’d filter all these tweets, or why you’d want to try. As best I can tell, the #BES2015 hashtag is a bunch of people talking to themselves, with no one listening, much less talking back.
Now, “as best I can tell” is a crucial phrase in that last sentence, because it’s quite possible–indeed, likely!–that “as best I can tell” is not very well. That is, I may very well be incapable of telling when Twitter is being used for something useful. With rare exceptions, I’m not on Twitter; it doesn’t work for me. But I’m still curious about how it works for others.
So you tell me, Twitter users: do you find conference hashtags like #BES2015 useful? If so, how? For instance, is the conference hashtag useful for someone who follows a carefully-curated set of Twitter accounts of conference attendees? So that it’s only useless for people who don’t?*
Note that I’m asking specifically about the value of the conference hashtag, not any and all talk- or conference-related uses of Twitter. For instance, I now appreciate why some people find live-tweeting talks (as opposed to merely sending out a single summary tweet) to be useful. And I can certainly see how you could use Twitter to socialize during a conference. But how does the conference hashtag help with those activities?
Note also that I’m not suggesting that conferences not have hashtags. I realize that these days, any scientific conference pretty much has to have one.
Finally, note that I did a bit of googling, and none of the posts I found really answered my question. So in asking y’all, I’m only being somewhat lazy, rather than totally lazy. 🙂
*That’s my best guess, based on Meg’s old post on why she uses Twitter.