Case in point: FDA’s Letter to Novartis concerning its use of the Like button and certain data Novartis had among its meta elements.
But I’d like to focus on something else: namely the need for a comprehensive understanding of the Web in 2010 in the context of regulated entities.
OMG, KILL ME: THE WEB IS MORE THAN TUBES!
What I find interesting in this story is the issue of the relevance of meta tag keywords.
Before the Web and search evolved to the point it has today, meta tags were one of the primary ways to provide data about the content on websites.
Initially, most interpretations of the FDA’s letter was that it was clueless about Facebook and online sharing tools. But FDA’s issue was actually more about metadata elements. The FDA may not appear to be particularly social media savvy, but I doubt it’s completely clueless.
But the Web has changed over the last decade: Google and its Page Rank algorithm have become dominant influences on how people find content online. Today, the Web is teaming with all sorts of metadata, from links to trackbacks to tweetbacks to who-knows-what-next.
According to Matt Cutts, head of Web spam at Google, Google doesn’t even use the keywords meta tag in web search. And it doesn’t seem to worry too much about meta description either. Here’s Google’s official post on it and here’s Matt to explain:
Now, I’m not suggesting that the FDA’s Letter was necessarily much ado about nothing – there are other search engines besides Google. And fair balance is an important part of the FDA’s obligation to protect the public from over-zealous marketing (from its point of view at least).
The larger issue this raises is: Do we need to completely re-examine the very existence and operations of the FDA? Should we go back to the historical contexts of its origins? After all, they go back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries! Maybe it’s time for a 21st Century reformation of FDA. Just a thought.
We can debate the technical matters involved in FDA’s Letter forever.
Rather, I’m wondering if there are other priorities, much larger concerns that are more pertinent to the today’s Web than the Web in 1998.
The amount of knowledge about how today’s Web works – from search engines to social sharing to mobile communications – is perhaps way beyond one person’s ability to attain it. It’s also in constant evolution.
So, I think what we need is a way to get regulatory bodies, industry experts, web designers, search engine specialists and others together so that that the right kinds of regulation can ensure the public is safe – both from unscrupulous marketers and regulatory bodies who might not make the most fully informed decisions.
Social Media – especially in the context of branded or unbranded marketing – is a mess.
Fortunately, for the Life Sciences and Healthcare industries, there are alternatives to Marketing. 🙂
You can learn how to go beyond just the marketing aspects of social media by attending our upcoming Webinar Healthcare Social Media: Perspectives in Practice. Sign up here!