A few weeks ago, I wrote a post to address the Warning Letter that Novartis received from the FDA for its social sharing widgets. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with a lot of different people and I’ve changed my view on the situation. I want to share that new opinion with you today.
One of the things that was the biggest change for me was the availability of a new solution to the problem. Before this solution (more on that in a moment), you had to choose between having quality META tags (including the description tag) that could be used by search engines in their results pages or social sharing tools. Typically, META descriptions include information about what the product does, but doesn’t include any fair balance (because of space limitations). These META descriptions are what many sharing tools use by default and this is what happened in Novartis’ case. The content that was shared lacked fair balance because the balance was not present in the META tags.
Today, I’m pleased to announce that companies no longer have to choose. You can now keep your META data unchanged along with every other visible element of your site and still have social sharing buttons. You can control exactly what content is shared when any of these buttons are used. How is this possible? Immediately after this Warning Letter was made public, I started talking to the folks at ShareThis to see if we could figure out a way to better control the shared content while not impacting anything else. Remarkably, in just a couple of weeks, the team at ShareThis was able to change their tools to make all of this possible. Here’s a press release from my company, Bridge Worldwide, and ShareThis explaining what we did in more detail: ShareThis and Bridge Worldwide Social Sharing Tools Press Release .
The short explanation the changes is this: ShareThis now supports the Open Graph protocol (the same one used for the Facebook Like buttons). By adding open graph tags to content pages, ShareThis buttons will now recognize this data to be used in sharing. This allows site owners to specify what content is shared.
For me, ShareThis was an obvious choice to deliver this new functionality for a few reasons: it only takes a couple of lines of code to add ShareThis buttons to any site (plus the open graph tags), you can select buttons representing 50+ different sharing sites (and customize the look of the buttons), their robust reporting and analytics tools, and the fact that ShareThis is the most recognized sharing service online (400+ million people a month, 850,000+ sites use it), so I know it’s reliable and recognized all over the Internet. And, of course, it’s free to anyone who wants to add it to their site.
Based on all of this, and a new view of the real issues raised in the FDA Warning Letter, here are our updated recommendations to pharma and healthcare companies (and any other company in any regulated industry) regarding social sharing: Digital Alert-Bridge Worldwide-Social Sharing in Regulated Industries (908 downloads)
We welcome your views and opinions on these new recommendations and also any comments you have on the enhancements to ShareThis. Adding ShareThis and the tags is a very simple process that any developer should be able to handle. However, if you would like to hear how our company, Bridge Worldwide, can help with the process (working with ShareThis), please feel free to contact me.