Tweeting The Future Photonics Hub Industry Day

Author: Tim O'Riordan 
The Future Photonics Hub Industry Day Exhibition, 13 September 2016 tweeting future photonics
Future Photonics Hub Industry Day Exhibition

A few weeks ago the Future Photonics Hub requested our help. The Hub is based at the Zepler Institute at the University of Southampton. As their name implies, they act as a focal point for photonics and optics research and work with partners in industry. As I learned when I met Ruth Churchill, the Hubs Coordinator in early September, photonics is the backbone of the Internet and Communications Industry, and the University of Southampton is a world-leader in the field.

Ruth explained that they required social media support for their Industry Day on 13 September. The Hub was running the event to bring together researchers – from Southampton, partners at the University of Sheffield and elsewhere – with industry leaders, at an event that included presentations, an exhibition space for photonics companies, and networking opportunities for students. As all other Digichamps were unavailable, it was down to me to cover the event as best I could. I was happy to help – although I could only cover the start and finish of the event in person.

While the presentations were fully subscribed, in the days leading up to the event there were still some places available for visitors to the industry exhibition, and I agreed to to promote this aspect of the day via their @zeplerinstitute Twitter account.

We agreed on a plan of action for promoting the event, as well as managing my absences during the day. This absence was mitigated slightly by using the Web app, Tweetdeck to schedule tweets to match the programme. This enabled me to produce a number of tweets 24 hours before the event, and schedule them for release at specific times during the day. We discussed the possibility of livestreaming the welcome address at the start of the day, taking photographs throughout the day, and producing a ‘Storify’ that captured the days’ interaction on social media. For the hashtag, I tried various alternatives and found that #futurephotonics was not being used on any other channel. In order to reach a wider audience, we also used other popular topic-specific hashtags: #optics and #photonics. Finally, using the Zepler Institutes yahoo account, I set up a Flickr channel. This enabled Ruth to upload and share a selection of high quality images for use in advance of the event, as well as act as a repository for the photographs I took during the day on my iPhone and Canon 60D.

Zepler Institute Director, Professor Sir David Payne welcomes delegates tweeting future photonics
Professor Sir David Payne welcomes delegates

I posted the first tweet on 9 September using the Zepler Institute Twitter account – promoting registration to the industry exhibition. This turned out to be the most engaging of all tweets over the next few days, gaining over 3,400 impressions and 14 engagements.

In addition to sending ‘welcomes’ to exhibitors with Twitter accounts the day before the event (11 in total), I also tweeted about the exhibition preparation and during the opening three presentations. I scheduled tweets for the middle part of the programme, and continued tweeting for the final four presentations, ensuring that each tweet included a photograph of each presenter.

At the start of the day I live-streamed Zepler Institute Director, Sir David Payne’s welcoming speech using the Twitter app, Periscope on my iPhone. This live video brought another 22 virtual viewers into the audience, and the associated tweet received more than 180 impressions, 9 engagements and an engagement rate of 4.9% – one of the best of the day.

Date Subject Impressions Engagement Engagement Rate
1 9 September Visit our exhibition + link 3422 14 0.4%
2 12 September Looking forward to tomorrow + link 375 4 1.1%
3 12 September Welcome exhibitor Ocean Optics + link 357 8 2.2%
4 12 September Welcome exhibitor Newport Corp. + link 239 3 1.3%
5 13 September Andrew Rickman keynote + photo 212 3 1.4%

Top 5 Tweets

During the day the number of accounts following @zeplerinstitute increased by 4 (to 208). Looking back over the past 5 months activity on the account, engagement levels during the first 15 days of September were double what they were in the whole of August, following the large increase in the number of tweets generated around the event. Levels of engagement have continued at higher than usual level in the 24 hours after the event.

@zeplerinstitute Twitter Engagement
@zeplerinstitute Twitter Engagement
16 day @zeplerinstitute Twitter Analytics
16 day @zeplerinstitute Twitter Analytics

Finally, a ‘Storify’ of the event, showing a selection of Twitter comments and photographs was also produced and tweeted to our audience. In the few hours since it was publicised, it has gained more than 20 views.

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