FDA’s Social Media Assets – Twitter Overview

Yesterday PharmExec.com carried a quote from the Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC) that the division’s highest priority is the issuance of a social media guideline.

But for some time now, while not offering any guidance for industry as yet, the agency has for some time been itself engaged in various social media platforms.  And for anyone so engaged, it is a good idea now and then to take stock of one’s progress.  It seemed like a good time to look in on FDA’s social media assets – in this case, the Twitter feeds of the agency.  What is going well and what could be done to improve?

First – a look at Twitter.  The agency now has 10 twitter feeds running.  The first, FDARecalls began in 2008, has the most followers and the highest KLOUT ranking. (KLOUT is an assessment tool that analyzes several different elements of a twitter feed to provide a ranking on a scale of 1-100.)

By diversifying its twitter offerings, the agency has acknowledged the increasingly granular nature of social media – that some people may not want ALL the FDA news, but only that which pertains to a specific area.  Many pharma companies have also developed multiple feeds as well.  Not only do more specific feed speak to the targeted interests of some, they also provide a more realistic mechanism for providing customer service aimed at a narrow audience. By the way, you can see all of the FDA’s tweets on the EyeonFDA FDA Twitter List.

  1. Make it easy to find - The thing about institutional use of social media, however, is not to make people work to find you.  The FDA Website is a maze, even for those of us who use it every day.  Even keeping track of one’s FDA bookmarks is a challenge.  A good and common practice is to list a link to one’s social media assets on a Web landing page.  In fact, FDA would be well-advised to put the links on several landing pages, certainly at least for every division.  If you make me look for it, I am less likely to find it.
  2. Tweet often - CBER has issued only 11 tweets.  It is difficult to imagine that there has not been more of interest in the world of biologics than what appears in these 11 tweets.
  3. Re-tweet one another – FDA will sometimes send the same tweet out ond different feeds.  By re-tweeting the original, though, you actually advertise the original feed to people who may not know of its existence.
  4. Be sociable – FDA’s feed follow very few other feeds.  That means it is not re-tweeting others.  Even if they don’t want to re-tweet Eye on FDA, they may want to re-tweet CDC, NIH, HHS or other government agencies.
  5. Use Twitter as a Driver – Twitter is an amazing traffic driver.  Whenever new assets are added to the Website, a blog, or a YouTube channel, these need to be tweeted with a link.

Meanwhile, let us hope that the long awaited guidance actually does emerge and at least begin the work of providing some insight into regulatory parameters involving social media.

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