Yes, the government is big into social media, and the agencies’ experience can help all of us. I participated in a Partnership for Food Safety Education meeting May 14, where three agencies – U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – shared how they use social media for industry and consumer food safety communications.
CDC, whose goal is to make content tools and services available whenever, wherever, and however users want it, uses a full arsenal of interactive tools to engage their target audience. Once a message is approved, the agency adapts it for use in the various media (e.g., the 140 characters allowed by microblog Twitter). CDC uses everything: e-games, user-generated content, social networks, blogs, widgets, mobile, Wikis, YouTube, Twitter and more – even e-cards. CDC also offers a sleeker mobile site for those on the go. And they syndicate their content for free in various ways so others can help get the agency’s content out.
In the future, PMA will be using the agencies’ existing widgets – which mirror agency content on PMA’s Web site – so you don’t have to go to another site.
Other speakers suggested getting started with outlets, such as Twitter, that have low investment thresholds and using social media as message multipliers. It’s important to tailor the messages to the various media and be sure to consider the time and effort it takes to maintain social media efforts.
To see what the government is into, check out the social media sites for FDA and CDC.
The PMA-supported partnership, which sponsors the Fight BAC! and Be Food Safe consumer food safety programs, does similar things on a smaller scale. Once the partnership sends an e-card to consumer influencers, it also sends out a tweet, puts it on its Web site and evaluates whether it’s worthy of a news release.
You’re obviously into new media because you are reading this blog. Help it along by forwarding this to people you think would be interested. And check out some of the other new media opportunities offered by these agencies, either to sign up and use them or to steal some ideas for your own business applications.