Report by Laura Bliss, WSTC4 Chair (@LauraBlissEco)
Another year and another successful Twitter conference! In fact, conferences using this social media platform have been organized by the World Seabird Union every year since WSTC1 in 2015 and are run entirely by early career volunteers. This year, our fully-digital conference featured 100 presenters from 22 countries presenting in three different languages. Each presenter had 15 minutes to present four scheduled tweets (280 characters each) and answer any questions. Often questions and discussions continued outside of the presenter’s session. The minimalistic tweet limit forced presenters to be succinct and use photographs, infographics, or animations to explain their research. This multimedia focus makes the presentations from this conference much more accessible to the general public and challenges researchers to think outside traditional communication methods.
We’ve found that Twitter Conferences are ideal for engaging with the global seabird community, maintaining networks, keeping up with new scientific developments and field methods, and identifying new opportunities for collaboration — all from a mobile phone or laptop. An additional benefit is that the science communicated reaches far beyond the research community. In 2018, 1.2 million Twitter users saw World Seabird Twitter Conference (#WSTC4) tweets! During the three days of the conference, the hashtag was tweeted 2,667 times by 601 contributors, on average about 52 times per hour. The geographic extent of #WSTC4 was global (Fig. 1), which provided great exposure for participants, as well as our sponsors, the Pacific Seabird Group, Avian Biology Research Journal, the Australasian Seabird Group, the Seabird Group, and the American Ornithological Society.
If you feel like you’ve missed out — don’t worry! The 5th World Seabird Twitter Conference (#WSTC5), chaired by Agnes Olin (@agnesbirgitta) is being held in April 2019. And, WSTC4 presentations are available for viewing by using the hashtag search on Twitter (Fig. 2). If you’d like to learn more, participate, or volunteer, visit www.seabirds.net for more details. Or, get in touch with us!
Laura Bliss, WSTC4 Chair: firstname.lastname@example.org Agnes Olin, WSTC5 Chair: email@example.com