Social networking could improve FDA response

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Pete Blackshaw, on the ConsumerGeneratedMedia.com blog, critiques the FDA’s Web site and provides some ideas about how the FDA could use social networking and digital media to better reach and educate consumers about the recent Salmonella outbreak.

He points out that this is a timely issue “as we have a new administration that’s already set a high bar on creative, if not breakthrough, use of the web as a communications channel, loyalty builder, and rapid-response tool.”

Among his suggestions:

  • Use video to connect with and reassure consumers
  • Include links that make it easy for people to share the content through e-mail and social networking sites
  • Create a presence on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace
  • Create widgets that can be used on other Web sites to help share FDA information
  • Build a blog that provides a steady stream of information about the recalls
  • Use photos of product involved in the recall

What other government agencies might be better served by a new look at their online presence and strategy?

1 thought on “Social networking could improve FDA response

  1. Jay Byrne

    The Obama Administration has it’s hands full bringing agencies like FDA up to code with 21st Century communication tools; however, focusing on a few items versus trying to do it all would be both realistic and serve health consumers best.

    Blackshaw is 100 percent on target to suggest embracing multi-media (video) to connect with consumers. Web audiences today are turning to YouTube with such frequency (nearly 3 billion searches and 12 billion videos viewed monthly) it competes with Google (actually beats Yahoo! and MSN) for consumer time and attention online. Government agencies (I headed communications for USAID in the 1990’s) have experience and comfort with video creation and translating that to online distribution channels wouldn’t be a major undertaking or shift.

    However, suggesting a blog to a clunky federal agency with layer up on layer of legal and regulatory requirements around its communications wouldn’t be the best use of limited time and resources. Making recall and other timely data blog-friendly with RSS feeds and other social media distribution tools would be a more reasonable first step. Federal health regulators blogging would likely fail to meet blogosphere expectations for timeliness and authentic voice.

    We should all encourage the advanced communicators coming in with the new administration to help government agencies focus on enhancing existing content and that which they already do well. More full participation will follow first step successes. Setting and encouraging realistic expectations, especially from the media, so that success breeds next steps is a more likely path to moving government communications forward effectively.

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