February 24th, 2009 by Mo

Original Article by David Nelles

Well, it’s nothing new about social media engagement in marketing and PR.  Even in the area of CRM as well as election campaign, social media appears to be a very efficient medium. Now social media also provides protection against salmonella contamination. Recently, the FDA used Twitter, Youtube, MySpace and Blogs to call back potential contaminated foods products. The center of this particular recall lies entirely on the American’s eating habits: the peanut butter. Thus, the coverage of this recall was extremely immense. To this date, there were more than 2.100 recalled products. Richard Stapleton, the head of U.S Health and Human Services Department justified the use of social media in this case as followed:

When the [peanut product] recall issue broke, it immediately occurred to us to spread the message through social media, which we feel is a much better way than using traditional media…

By acting so, the U.S authorities are certainly going into the right direction. Social media has the coverage and the velocity to spread this kind of themes in a fast and efficient way for the respective target group. Hence, it has been shown quite often, how fast information travels in social media, be it the U.S Airways Crash Rescue or the fire of CCTV building in Beijing. Social media channels, like Twitter, are faster and they certainly do provide wider coverage in spreading the news than the classical media. Though, this doesn’t automatically mean that the classical media should be excluded in this kind of recall action. Most importantly is actually, that all available possibilities and strong coverage media should be thoroughly used. Furthermore, this includes of course the platforms of user generated media. From this point of view, the application of social media for epidemical containment is definitely useful.  Rick Turoczy also shares positive view on using social media tools in this area:

Hopefully, this is just the first step – rapidly disseminating information – of many for incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into these agencies. With continued adoption, one can easily imagine the possible advances in protecting the populous from disease before it happens – like employing technology similar to Google’s flu trends combined with social graph information. And that’s only one example.


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