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Agencies used social media to manage salmonella outbreak

Do you remember not that long ago when, if you said “blog” to a colleague, you had to explain that a blog was a tool and not all blogs were done by teenage girls putting their diaries online? That was my experience anyway. It takes a while for people to figure out the difference between the tool and the media’s depiction of one popular way the tool is used.

The buzzword of the day is no longer “blogs” — now everyone knows that everyone from the CBO to NASA has blogs.

Today the tool we have to make sure people understand is “social media” — an all-encompassing fuzzy term that covers everything from wikis to FaceBook, collaboration tools, communication tools, multimedia tools, and more. See the nice overview at Wikipedia.

Now that these tools are being used by government agencies, it is important for us to understand them as another group of channels of information dissemination. The recent outbreak of salmonella tainted peanut butter, gave agencies an opportunity to demonstrate the use of social media tools and gives us an opportunity to see this in action.

The agencies started by brainstorming ideas via conference call on how social media could be used, said Dick Stapleton, deputy director of the Web communications and the new media division at HHS. He said the calls were “very rewarding.” HHS, FDA and CDC officials decided how to build on each other’s social media experiences. “We tried to use every available form of media,” Stapleton said.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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