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5 Twitter Trends to Help You Succeed at Life Sciences Industry Events

Using Twitter data from top industry conferences to help attendees stand out

Life Sciences Pennsylvania (LSPA) will host its signature event — Life Sciences Future — Sept. 18-19 in Philadelphia. The annual event brings together representatives from the entire life sciences ecosystem and is designed to facilitate connections and interactions to advance the industry.

Presenters, exhibitors and attendees take part in Life Sciences Future with the goal of building relationships within the industry. However, today’s digital world has transformed the industry conference experience by turning up the volume surrounding events, especially on Twitter. As a result, standing out often feels like a Herculean task.

The silver lining? The Twitter activity surrounding an event can tell us a lot about how to differentiate. The truth is in the data: You just need to know what to look for.

Our team has pioneered the use of social network analysis to inform advocacy campaigns and strategic communications. Social network analysis uses network and graphing theory to demonstrate how people engage with each other online, giving a bird’s-eye view of how online communities interact. This helps us understand the audiences who are engaged on a particular topic or issue, identify influencers and activists, and determine the content and messaging that resonate.

In anticipation of this year’s Life Sciences Future, we analyzed Twitter hashtag activity from some of the industry’s most buzzworthy events: Life Sciences Future (#LSF16), the BIO International Convention (#BIO2016) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting (#ASCO16).

Several trends emerged across these events that can help attendees craft a winning life sciences conference strategy:

  1. Feature female industry leadersAcross the board, Twitter users rallied around opportunities to celebrate women leaders in the biotech industry at conferences. For example, two of the most popular panels at BIO 2016 featured trailblazing female leaders from Johnson & Johnson. At last year’s Life Sciences Future, LSPA’s Karen DeLone (senior vice president and chief operating officer) was the second most influential tweeter among event attendees (LSPA was most influential overall).
  2. Integrate local elements Twitter users were more likely to engage with exhibitors and panels that incorporated local participation from the conference host city. One of the most buzzed about panels at BIO 2016 featured a Q&A between a NASA astronaut and a local high school science class.
  3. Go behind the scenes — Our analysis revealed Twitter users engaged with behind-the-scenes content from presenters. Top Twitter content from ASCO 2016 included photos of a cancer activist reviewing her slides and a presentation deck that a radiation doctor shared online in advance of his session.
  4. Facilitate connectionsThis was another key to success, with many Twitter users participating in meetups, sharing selfies and engaging in disease-specific chats. Social media tips and chats were prevalent at ASCO 2016, with top engagement around #HCChat (hereditary cancer chat), the Journal of the American Medical Association’s article on disease-specific hashtags and Twitter 101 for the Busy Healthcare Provider. The C-suite breakfast was one of the most popular programs at Life Sciences Future 2016, validating that people attend conferences to connect with the best and brightest in their industry.
  5. Share compelling visualsCaptivating visuals and video that taught, entertained or moved people consistently shone amidst the conference buzz. The International Space Station shared a teaser video to encourage people to visit its booth at BIO 2016. Bristol-Myers Squibb and AbbVie generated engagement during Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot address at ASCO 2016 with educational graphics and animations about kidney and lung cancer.

The theme of this year’s Life Sciences Future is #TheFuture is Closer than You Think, and it promises to convene top professionals dedicated to delivering on the promise of the life sciences industry. Make the most of the event by using #TheFuture in your own tweets and leveraging these trends to make meaningful online connections.

Topper Ray is president of communications for Bravo Group and serves as co-chair of the 2017 Life Sciences Future Communications Committee.