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Posted 23 July 2014 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC,
Finding information about the latest regulatory news can be profoundly difficult. Even with thousands of websites, hundreds of newsletters and dozens of subscription services, information that could affect you and your company can still slip through the cracks.
Luckily, there's help, and lots of it—but only if you know where to look.
One of the most under-utilized sources of regulatory information is Twitter, a social media platform that is based on "tweets"—also known as micro blogs—consisting of postings of 140 characters or fewer.
The platform is heavily utilized by journalists, analysts and life science professionals who use Twitter to connect with colleagues and, more importantly, find an audience for their work.
While the 140-character postings are brief, this can be advantageous for regulatory professionals seeking out information. Since the posts are so short, each author is incentivized to be concise and precise in their respective postings, making it easy to skim a large quantity of information in a relatively short amount of time.
Twitter's other obvious benefit lies in how it allows its users to engage in an expansive dialogue with other users. Unlike Facebook, which requires a user to be another user's "Friend" before messaging them, Twitter generally allows all users to message one another (though you can restrict this). The benefit to this default setting is that users can easily ask one another questions—an obvious benefit for regulatory intelligence professionals seeking additional information.
For example, if a journalist posts an insight piece on a recent regulatory trend, I could either seek out other opinions from my Twitter network or I could also pose questions directly to the author. These types of interactions are common on Twitter.
The platform also has an easy-to-use system built on what are known as "hashtags," (noted by the '#' symbol) which make it easy to follow topics. For example, if you wanted to follow all Twitter postings on pharmaceuticals, you might search for the hashtag "#pharma," which would bring up all posts tagged with that hashtag. Users can also search by regular search terms, such as "pharmaceutical."
As with many social media platforms, there are tools available for so-called "power users" of Twitter. One of the most popular available is HootSuite, which allows users to save their most popular searches. Other similar tools include TweetDeck, MetroTwit and SproutSocial.
So of what use is Twitter to regulatory professionals?
Perhaps the most popular use is to keep up with important news. Twitter is one of the most popular tools used by journalists and reporters, including nearly all involved in the life sciences sector. By finding and following these users, you can be among the first to be made aware of breaking or important news. In addition, the platform presents a good way to ask questions about a particular article. Many journalists are happy to provide clarification or additional details.
Twitter is also a hub of opinion and competitive intelligence, and many experts use it to trade opinions about the approval prospects of various products, general regulatory trends and updates on important committee hearings. Twitter is often one of the best ways to keep track of the major goings-on of industry conferences as well, allowing users to follow up with conference attendees if they missed something they feel is important.
The platform also allows users to keep close track of many government agencies. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains many accounts on Twitter, which it uses to disseminate information. Due to the large number of communication channels used by FDA, Twitter can often be one of the simplest to keep track of as FDA funnels its various communications into a single stream, keeping your email inbox less full. And many other agencies and organizations, such as PhRMA, the International Conference on Harmonization (ICH), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), maintain a robust presence on the platform as well.
It is, in short, a platform many regulatory professionals—and in particular those involved in regulatory intelligence and news analysis functions—could benefit greatly from.
But that leaves just one more question: Who should regulatory professionals follow on Twitter? Regulatory Focus has put together an extensive list of 460 accounts -- people, associations, agencies and experts -- we think are worth following. These are accounts that generate original content and insight, allowing you to cut out most of the clutter and focus on what matters most.
While the list is by no means comprehensive, it should serve as a good starting point for anyone new to Twitter, or just looking to find a few new sources to follow if they already do.
Included in our list is the name of the account, a link to the account, a description of the account (as written by the account holder), and a basic analysis of the account type or journalistic affiliation. Enjoy!
Tags: Healthcare Social Media, Twitter, Social Media, Top Twitter Accounts, Top Twitter in Life Science, Top Twitter in Pharma, Top Twitter in Medical Device, Top Twitter in Biotech