FDA Twitter Guidance in Only 300 Words

fda tweet

In June 2014, the FDA issued two guides for social media, and more recently a third:

This week I have key takeaways from the second guidance, specifically ones for Twitter (the guidance also addresses sponsored link promotions).

In 140 characters, a product tweet must include:

  • Brand and generic names
  • Benefit information
  • Risk information
  • Link to complete product risk information

Here the FDA’s example of a tweet for a fictitious drug, NoFocus:

NoFocus (rememberine HCl) for mild to moderate memory loss-May cause seizures in patients with a seizure disorder http://www.nofocus.com/risk [134/140]

For a breakdown on how the FDA constructed the above example, start at page 7 of the guidance document.

A few other things:

  • The FDA will allow use of shortened URLs to link to the complete discussion of risk, saving valuable characters.
  • Note that a “reminder” promotion, which calls attention to the name of a product but does not make any representations or suggestions about the product, is exempt from many of these labeling and advertising disclosure requirements.
  • And “Eye on FDA” by Mark Senak of Fleishman-Hillard presumes, “If FDA would tweet a drug approval – “XYZ Drug approved by FDA for diabetes Type 2″ – the manufacturer would presumably not be allowed to re-tweet the FDA’s announcement.  Below is an example of such a tweet, and I noticed the manufacturer did not re-tweet.

fda tweet

Net — if you cannot present full benefit and risk within the character space limits, then you should not use that outlet for advertising and promotion.

On July 10, the FDA hosted a Social Media Guidance Webinar; click here for the slides.

Next week Mark Senak will host his own webinar on the guidances – sign up here.




5 Pro Tips for SM Monitoring Off-Hours

  1. For our weekend monitoring, we rotate our staff much as we do with handling press calls. We expect the person on call to check our sites (Facebook, Twitter and blog) morning and late afternoon on the weekends. These are our social media staff. In a smaller organization I might suggest combining social media monitoring with press call duties. – Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media
  2. At Vanderbilt, we have a team of four staff members who rotate being on call for our social channels. Each rotation is a week at a time. – Cynthia Floyd Manley, Content and Social Media Strategist, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  3. In our PR & Marketing Department of about 15 people, we only have 2 staff who work heavily with social media… For evenings and weekends I check all accounts by 8 p.m… We chose 8 p.m. because it seemed like a reasonable cut off time that I could still make phone calls to the appropriate people should a situation come up that I need assistance with. ..Monitoring takes about 5-10 minutes each evening and weekend so it doesn’t intrude too much. – Jamie Weller, Public Relations Communications Coordinator at Regional Health, Rapid City, SD
  4. We have a much smaller comms shop, so weekend monitoring is primarily looking at @ mentions that come in via Twitter app on our blackberry, and monitoring Facebook if there are any sensitive posts. – Ann Fuller, Director, Communications Public Relations at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  5. For more risky brands/environments, you can engage someone to moderate/monitor outside of hours. – Hugh Stephens, Social and Digital Media Consultant at Dialogue Consulting

Do you have a tip to share?

Next Friday…FDA draft guidelines on the use of social media platforms by drug and device manufacturers.


Why This Formula Will Improve Your Facebook Engagement  

The Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy, once said “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” Headlines quickly and briefly draw attention to information, which is what we strive for in social networking. So, I wonder why I don’t see more headlines, let alone attention-grabbing ones on Facebook posts.

If you want your brand posts to rise above the others (who doesn’t’?) as well as friend and family posts, try these 5 easy tricks to help you write catchy headlines:

1.      Use numbers

2.      Use interesting adjectives

3.      Use unique rationale

4.      Use a trigger word, i.e. what, why, how or when

5.      Make an audacious promise

Scan a newspaper or magazine, and you’ll see these tips in action. Then try the following formula by Jeff Goins, and see your posts become more engaging to your Facebook audience.

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Example:  Take a bold promise like “selling your house in a day.” Apply the formula and you get: “How You Can Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less than 24 Hours.”

And for us healthcare communicators, here are examples of real Facebook posts before and after using the Goins formula:

Did you know that regular exercise can help slow the progression of Parkinson’s Disease? Read more: ….

Spend Only $50 and Help Slow the Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

Note: $50 refers to the cost of a good pair of walking or running shoes.

Men, smoking has been linked to problems with fertility, sexual performance, and rapid mental decline. So, if you smoke, it’s worth trying to quit. For more men’s health tips…

Improve Your Sexual Performance by Following a Simple Tip

Did you know we have Urgent Care Clinics in seven different locations for your convenience and anyone can visit, young and old? You don’t have to be a Sutter patient.

9 Compelling Reasons for Going to a Sutter Urgent Care Clinic

Just remember when drafting headlines to be honest.

Click here for 20 more tips for writing awesome Facebook headlines.



Facebook: Content – Easy, Advertising – ?

Although online adults are diversifying onto other social networking platforms – an average of 20% use Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Instagram – Facebook remains dominant at 71%. So, if you’re not proficient on Facebook, you should be.

For us public relations professionals, developing Facebook content is easy. We can distinguish news, see stories, and cull information. We’ve produced videos, hired photographers, trained spokespeople, written materials, publicized events, promoted contests, taped interviews – among other things.

What we know less of is advertising, especially advertising on Facebook.

This matters because organic reach (unpaid distribution) could be zero very shortly, according to Social Media Today. “Your Facebook page’s organic reach is about to plummet — down to a lowly 1-2%. While organic reach has long been declining, it has significantly declined since the fall of 2013.”

What may surprise you is advertising to current fans and more on Facebook is not expensive. Moz’s Brian Carter says, “If you can’t spend $30 per month ($1 per day on Facebook Ads), you shouldn’t be in business.” Right?!

Advice, tips and information on Facebook advertising abounds – here are resources that are guiding me:

Content is great; content is fun – but it doesn’t really matter if your fans aren’t seeing it and having a chance to engage with your brand.


Hospital Employee Social Media. Yes or No?

Yes.  Hospital employees engage in social media – at work, she is probably using a mobile device.

This can be good. Employees share hospital disease information, promote hospital events, and attract new job prospects.

This also can be bad. Recently, an employee at a Cincinnati hospital cruelly disclosed on Facebook a woman’s name and her diagnosis of syphilis.

While the risk of social media by hospital employees can never be eliminated, it can be mitigated:

  • Draft social media guidelines that the least educated employees can understand, and make them accessible to all employees at the hospital’s web site, HIPAA trainings, new employee orientation, etc.
  • Require employees to add a disclaimer to their social media posts or sites indicating they’re speaking on their own behalf, not the hospital. Or, recommend that employees not identify themselves as employees of the hospital.
  • Expect and plan for a social media emergency, just as you would a communications crisis. The hospital in Cincinnati quickly responded on Facebook and Twitter. The CEO took responsibility and explained the error. The majority of comments to news stories, including the two on their Facebook page, appeared to blame the employees and not the hospital.

By doing so, you can reduce the incidences of employees inadvertently disclosing private medical information or prepare for the rare occasion when an employee maliciously exposes a patient’s health condition.

Learn more, including the impact of the NLRA, from Dan Goldman, J.D., legal counsel for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.


Cocktails in Yoga Pants

PR Gal Pals,

This is my first blog post.

Tweet-Post-Pin is for you – and me.  Social media should be a core communication tactic, especially in light of more guidelines coming from the FDA. However, I just don’t feel fluent in it. And this matters to me when making recommendations to clients.

Last month I joined a social media residency program at the Mayo Clinic – so I’ll be learning best practices from a healthcare leader. I also created an editorial calendar of various topics, including legal/regulatory/FDA, professional guidelines, demographics, ROI, and case studies. Each week I’ll post a blog, extending it through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and eventually YouTube.

Please let me know how I’m doing.

Thanks, Karen


Social media is like a cocktail party, and the best part – you can go in your yoga pants.

Here’s how to make the most of it…

  • Pick a party, i.e. a platform (42% of online adults use multiple social networking sites, but Facebook remains the platform of choice – Pew Research 12/13)
  • Grab a drink and find the people you want to meet.
  • Listen – people love to be heard, note their interests and specialties.
  • Join the conversation – tell them what you do, what you think, then what you have to offer.
  • Be nice – like, retweet and comment when people engage with you.
  • Make a date to see each other again.