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Posts Tagged ‘stericycle’

Outbreak, Recall Information Seekers Drive Social Media Adoption

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Everyone is online these days, watching and discussing health-related news. Within a few days of news of the swine flu outbreak, the term “swine flu” became 10x more popular on blogs and Twitter than references to the peanut-related salmonella problems earlier this year, according to Nielsen Online, which tracks online buzz.

We tracked the peanut recall ourselves, and were amazed at the rapid spread of information and questions surrounding the recall of hundreds of products made from peanut paste.

Agencies Lead Outbreak and Recall Information Distribution

Government agencies, most notably the CDC and FDA are leading sources of health-related news and recall information. They’re taking a leadership position, especially in getting recall news out via social media means.

On Wednesday, April 29, the CDC’s emergency Twitter feed had blossomed to more than 40,000 followers (up from a few thousand during the peanut recall in February.) Today, their feed has more than 57,000 subscribers.

Who knows how many followers they’ll have as the swine flu news and information spreads?

In an interview on NPR, Andrew Wilson, heading up the Health and Human Services efforts to think about uses of technology for outreach, said, “Not only are we trying to get information out using these tools, but we’re also trying to establish relationships.”

They’ve been learning, as have we at Academic Network, that by establishing online relationships with bloggers, journalists and public health officials, agencies are able to combat misinformation and broadcast warnings extremely quickly.

Recall News and Information Resources

The FDA has a wonderful online resource for consumers – an online alert system that anyone can use to:

♦ Subscribe to recall alerts by email
♦ Report a recall
♦ See all food and pharmaceutical-related recalls

Recalls.gov is a site coordinated by “six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions” that have joined together to “create a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.” On this site, any consumer can report a defective product directly to the government, an important service.

As we support companies with products in recall situations, Academic Network and our parent company Stericycle will to continue to leverage social media to understand and help answer questions consumers are asking around recalled products, and to engage in getting the right information out about products in recall at the most critical time in the most efficient manner.