Let’s face it. To get your message across these days, you most likely have to blog it, tweet it or post it on Facebook. In other words, you have to employ some form of social media. As use of such networks (also called “new media”) has become more widespread in pop culture over the last decade, it’s also presented tantalizing new ways for the medical research community to connect with more people. Naturally, along with any new tools come new responsibilities and rules for users. Enter the recently released “NIH Social and New Media Policy” (also known affectionately as “Manual Issuance 2809”).
“These days of new media are very much like the first days of the Internet,” said John Burklow, NIH associate director for communications and public liaison. “We see social media as valuable—and powerful—new resources for communicating and engaging audiences. We want to harness that power in thoughtful ways.”
Communication with Consideration
More than 2 years in the making, the social media policy was published Nov. 4. Led by the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, two other Office of the Director components—the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of Management Assessment—worked together to develop the guidance. Their challenge? How to use the new technologies to relay science and health messages effectively while also protecting the privacy of our partners in research—patients, the public, and NIH’s reputation and electronic resources.