The medium is the message: Social media use by food and health organizations

Marshall McLuhan famously said in 1967, “The medium is the message” and got to do a walk-on in the movie, Annie Hall, where he told some pompous professor that he doesn’t understand his theories at all and is not qualified to teach.

Marshall-McLuhan-in-Annie-Hall-300x225With food safety recalls today, it’s the medium and the message, if you want to getpeople’s attention.

A paper in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior explores the increasing use of social media by food and health organizations.

Objective: To examine the use and impact of social media on 2-way communication between consumers and public organizations in the food safety and nutrition area.

Methods: In-depth qualitative study conducted between October, 2012 and January, 2013, using semi- structured interviews in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sixteen professionals worked on the public interface within 5 national organizations with a role in communicating on food safety and nutrition issues in this thematic analysis.

Results: Five main themes were identified: gradual shift toward social media–based queries and complaints; challenges and limitations of social media to deal with queries and complaints; benefits of using social media in query and complaint services; content redesign driven by social media use; and using social media to learn more about consumers.

Conclusion and Implications: Social media penetrated and brought new opportunities to food organizations’ interactions with the public. Given the increasing use of social media by the public, food organizations need to explore such new opportunities for communication and research.

Key Words: social media, 2-way communication, public engagement, online monitoring, food (J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015;47:104-108.)

Interactive communication with the public: qualitative exploration of the use of social media by food and health organizations


Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 47, Number 1, 2015

Liran Christine Shan, MSc, MSc; Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos, PhD; Aine Regan, PhD; Aoife De Brun, PhD; Julie Barnett, PhD; Patrick Wall, MB BAO BCh, MVB, MBA, MRCVS; Aine McConnon, PhD