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Twitter in Biotech: Today. Tomorrow?

August 22, 2013

Far from a time sink, I find Twitter to be very useful; not just for “news,” but also to network and develop productive work relationships.

I appreciate Xconomy’s Luke Timmerman putting me on his Who Should Biotech Pros Follow on Twitter? An Update for 2013 list.  I’m not sure I’m worthy, however!

I created a Twitter account October 26, 2009 to follow John Calipari.  Soon I figured out I could use Twitter for work related information, too.  My sixth and seventh follows were Daphne Zohar and Bruce Booth, respectively (both behind A Plea for Purging, though).

The real value in Twitter, I find, is this; connecting to people with similar interests, then making a real world connection.  But I am also curious how we’ll use it in the future.

Luke was the 29th person I followed.  After some Twitter interaction, Luke and I met in person in San Francisco; first at the BIO Investor Forum 2011 then later that week at Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome.  I also attended The Immunex Impact: An Xconomy Forum that Luke moderated in December 2011.  We’ve met on several occasions since then.  Being from the upper Midwest, Luke has empathy for biotech in the middle 1/3 of the U.S., I think.  Luke’s been nothing but helpful to me.

Working from Luke’s 2012 Who Should Life Science Pros Follow on Twitter?, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the value of Twitter currently using people on the list I’ve met in person as a framework.

@RyanMFierce Ryan McBride:  Ryan and I connected briefly at Xconomy’s Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum.  We photobombed this picture.  Circulating photobombed pictures is a good use of Twitter.

With Ryan

Ryan is a great source of news and information, too.

@Michael_Gilman Michael Gilman:  I met Michael just long enough to shake his hand at the Boston 2012 BIO Convention Tweetup.

If Twitter had hair, I’d give it a mullet; “business in the front, party in the back.”  Meaning, mostly professional content, but a little personality, too.  For me, getting a glimpse of someone’s personality and interests is what makes Twitter useful and fun.  Michael’s Twitter feed is both useful and fun.

@scientre Laura Strong:  I also officially met Laura for the first time at the Boston 2012 BIO Convention Tweetup.  Unofficially, I’m pretty sure someone introduced us at either MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum 2009 in Madison or 2010 in Detroit.

Laura and I have many common interests, including biotech economic development away from the coasts.  It’s not uncommon for us to have an e-mail conversation going outside of public tweets.  Here’s an example of the outgrowth of one of those conversations; Active Life Science VCs & Twitter: Correlation? Causation? Randomness?  Plus, we share information and ideas.  And networks.

@LifeSciVC Bruce Booth:  If memory serves, I believe Bruce and I met for the first time at URES 2012.  Like many, I’m a big fan of Bruce’s blog posts.  Rock star, right?

Here’s the thing, though; he let’s me periodically bounce ideas off him for feedback and helps make introductions.  That’s solid.

Continuing on to Luke’s Who Should Biotech Pros Follow on Twitter? An Update for 2013 list…

@mkoeris Michael Koeris:  Mike and I had been tweeting for a while before we met in Cambridge in April 2013.

Mike and I conspire often via non-Twitter forms of communication, too.  Mike introduced me to a fellow Kentucky native, Emily Walsh.  I may have never made that connection but for networking via Twitter.  Mike’s always good for an introduction.  Or opinion, which I value!

@kevintoshio Kevin Chow:  I met Kevin for breakfast in October 2012 while I was in Seattle for the WBBA 2012 Governor’s Life Science Summit and Annual Meeting.  Kevin and I had communicated via Twitter and e-mail previously, too.

Kevin’s made introductions and shared information.  Even on kids’ bikes!

@bmgallagherjr Brian Gallagher:  I also met Brian for the first time at URES 2012.  We have a mutual friend; a guy I went to undergrad with at Transylvania University and Brian attended grad school with at Michigan.

Brian has never failed to answer a question or provide critical feedback any time I’ve asked for it.

@davidasteinberg David Steinberg:  David and I met at the Boston 2012 BIO Convention, but we had connected on Twitter, e-mail and phone before that.  Always helpful (all the folks at PureTech that I’ve talked to have been great, for that matter).

A direct outcome of that meeting; KNODE & the University of Louisville Announce Partnership.

Which is a good segue…

I use KNODE to include profiles of UofL PIs in tweets.  Related, I’m fascinated by altmetrics.  “Can Tweets Predict Citations?”  Yes, apparently.  Can you help drive that with KNODE?  “Guerrilla marketing” scholarly links to get the word out.

Twitter is good for tapping into the crowd to get thoughts on a particular topic or question.  Examples; Biz plans; do VCs read them? and Great team.  The second example uses Peerin.  Peerin is another great Twitter-related tool.

Twitter is cheaper than a plane ticket.  It’s great to follow conferences and meetings via hashtags.  People often think I’m at meetings even though I’m sitting in Louisville.

Often I’ll use a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn and e-mail, especially when I’ve seen a person tweet something related to a project via a conference hashtag.  See the tweet, look them up on LinkedIn, find an e-mail address.  Which is a mild form of cyberstalking, I guess.  But it works.

Louisville is not exactly the hotbed of biotech, so I use whatever resources I can.

Will a Gnip for biotech emerge?  “Big data monitors 12 terabytes of tweets each day to improve product sentiment analysis,” according to the Data Science at NYU website.

What will be the innovative new ways to use Twitter in biotech?

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