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USDA use of Twitter

Background

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) use new media to interact with people around the globe. These channels include the USDA blog, Facebook, Flickr, Storify, YouTube, Widgets and Twitter.

Regarding Twitter, the USDA has launched a series of Twitter feeds for their specific services. In total they have 29 associated Twitter pages. Each Twitter page has a specific function.

Actions

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Twitter account helps to educate visitors about the importance of safe food handling and reducing the risk of foodborne illness. This Twitter account has over 400,000 followers. The Tweets usually feature food safety advice, news releases and product recalls. Regarding the latter, followers of these USDA Twitter accounts receive timely and targeted alerts about food recalls in their state, as well as information on how to protect their food supply during severe weather events. The USDA product recall tweets always include the hash tag USDA Food #Recall. The tweet includes a link for Twitter users to use to find out more information about the nature of the recall and the recalled product. Below are some examples of state specific #Recall tweets:

What makes this a good example?

  1. Twitter use during product recalls- communication is one of the most important factors at play during a product recall. The use of Twitter by USDA  means that food alerts are timely and targeted, thereby protecting public health.  
  2. Product recall hash tags- the use of the hash tag USDA Food #Recall means that the information is easily retrievable; while, the inclusion of a weblink in the Tweets allows the reader has easy access to more detailed information elsewhere.

“USDA is an every day, every way Department and we want to connect with people in ways that are the most convenient and effective for them. For some, the most convenient way is to read information directly on our Web site, others might prefer audio or video casts. There are those that want to share what they've read or learned, so we have tools to help spread the word.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Website