Developing a social media etiquette for conferences and events

socialmediaFor some time now we have been discussing the increasing pervasiveness of social media at conferences and professional development events. Undoubtedly this has great benefits. For example, Twitter backchannels can enable attendees to follow multiple parallel sessions at the same time. Those who are unable attend in person can also follow event conversations online. And of course, Twitter now affords the potential to extend these conversations beyond attendees, opening up a potentially global conversation. Also, tools such as Storify can be used to create a useful archive of conference tweet for browsing after the event.

Some organisations have used social media to facilitate gaming activities which complement conference events: #senatesecrets, a treasure hunt game designed specifically for the FOTE 2014 conference, is one interesting example which blends offline and online activities, the latter using a range of social media tools including Flickr and Twitter.

Similarly blog posts from conference attendees can provide a wonderful synopsis of an event, prompting reflection on, and discussion of, conference themes. (See for example Catherine Cronin’s #oer16 blog post for an excellent reflection on the #oer16 conference, which itself includes a collection of blog posts from other academics.)

As academics become more conscious of their digital identity, and the benefits of engaging in such networking via social media, the blogging and tweeting at conferences and similar events has increased exponentially. However, at times it seems as if, in our enthusiasm for sharing via social media, we have paid insufficient attention to the privacy and ethical issues which inevitably arise.

For example, if you have presented at a conference, are you happy with attendees taking photos of you and/or your slides and tweeting them? Would you be happy for an attendee to record and stream your presentation via social media without asking you? Would you feel comfortable if someone tweeted a keynote-related comment you had made informally over coffee?

With this in mind, I’ve been involved in developing a Social Media Etiquette for this year’s Dublin eLearning Summer School: an etiquette which we felt was particularly relevant considering the theme of this year’s event – “Ethics and eLearning”. All #elss16 attendees will be asked to follow the guidelines below:

Please do:

  • Make sure to include the official hashtag, #elss16, when sharing event-related posts on Twitter and elsewhere on social media.
  • The default assumption is that all presentations are “bloggable” and “tweetable”. However, some presenters may request that certain slides, or findings, be left out of the social media conversation. Please respect any such request.
  • Please respect other participants and presenters – remember that your posts are public and live forever.
  • If you are tweeting or blogging during a session, please consider sitting near the back of the room to avoid distracting presenters or other participants.
  • Please mute your mobile phone/laptop/tablet volume to avoid disruptions.


Please do not:

  • Video or audio record any session without the presenter’s explicit permission. This includes the use of mobile apps such as Periscope.
  • Post online any images, audio or video that have been recorded, without first having the presenter’s explicit permission to post it.
  • Photograph presenter’s slides and share them on social media without their permission.
  • Capture, transmit or disseminate research data presented at the event – this may jeopardise subsequent publication of the data in an academic journal.
  • Tweet, or post elsewhere online, comments made by fellow attendees at the event.
  • Engage in rudeness or personal attacks online.


Watch this space for the response from participants and presenters as #elss16 begins tomorrow!