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Community management that works: how to build and sustain a thriving online health community.

Young C - J. Med. Internet Res. (2013)

Bottom Line: But social Web (Web 2.0) technology alone does not create a successful online community.Building and sustaining a successful community requires an enabler and strategic community management.The paper draws on insights from an ongoing study and observation of online communities as well as experience managing and consulting a variety of online health communities.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Canadian Virtual Hospice, Toronto, ON, Canada. colleen@colleenyoung.com

ABSTRACT
Health care professionals, patients, caregivers, family, friends, and other supporters are increasingly joining online health communities to share information and find support. But social Web (Web 2.0) technology alone does not create a successful online community. Building and sustaining a successful community requires an enabler and strategic community management. Community management is more than moderation. The developmental life cycle of a community has four stages: inception, establishment, maturity, and mitosis. Each stage presents distinct characteristics and management needs. This paper describes the community management strategies, resources, and expertise needed to build and maintain a thriving online health community; introduces some of the challenges; and provides a guide for health organizations considering this undertaking. The paper draws on insights from an ongoing study and observation of online communities as well as experience managing and consulting a variety of online health communities. Discussion includes effective community building practices relevant to each stage, such as outreach and relationship building, data collection, content creation, and other proven techniques that ensure the survival and steady growth of an online health community.

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Profile of a member who has achieved mentor status on PatientsLikeMe site.
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figure4: Profile of a member who has achieved mentor status on PatientsLikeMe site.

Mentions: Activity remains the prime focus of the establishment phase. Supporting, observing, and investing time in the community’s core members helps achieve the remaining goals of the establishment period, namely growth and a deepening sense of community [30]. As the community matures, trust and lasting relationships begin to emerge and the strengths of core members reveal themselves [37]. Community managers should capitalize on the roles that core members start to assume, assigning them ownership of these roles and rewarding them for their activity, such as by featuring them in a newsletter article or blog post or by developing a system of recognition awarding status, for example, highlighting the most helpful members or most viewed posts. In the community PatientsLikeMe [38], members receive profile stars to indicate the amount of health information they’ve shared (see Figure 4). The stars show other members who has shared how much. Once a member receives the maximum three stars, they can apply for mentor status. Note that the PatientsLikeMe model assumes that the more members share, the more they can understand about their own experience and presumably the more they help others to learn. However, quantity does not trump quality. A single quality post from a regular member can also have a significant positive effect on a community. Community managers may wish to highlight the best comments of the week or month to recognize influential members.


Community management that works: how to build and sustain a thriving online health community.

Young C - J. Med. Internet Res. (2013)

Profile of a member who has achieved mentor status on PatientsLikeMe site.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3713910&req=5

figure4: Profile of a member who has achieved mentor status on PatientsLikeMe site.
Mentions: Activity remains the prime focus of the establishment phase. Supporting, observing, and investing time in the community’s core members helps achieve the remaining goals of the establishment period, namely growth and a deepening sense of community [30]. As the community matures, trust and lasting relationships begin to emerge and the strengths of core members reveal themselves [37]. Community managers should capitalize on the roles that core members start to assume, assigning them ownership of these roles and rewarding them for their activity, such as by featuring them in a newsletter article or blog post or by developing a system of recognition awarding status, for example, highlighting the most helpful members or most viewed posts. In the community PatientsLikeMe [38], members receive profile stars to indicate the amount of health information they’ve shared (see Figure 4). The stars show other members who has shared how much. Once a member receives the maximum three stars, they can apply for mentor status. Note that the PatientsLikeMe model assumes that the more members share, the more they can understand about their own experience and presumably the more they help others to learn. However, quantity does not trump quality. A single quality post from a regular member can also have a significant positive effect on a community. Community managers may wish to highlight the best comments of the week or month to recognize influential members.

Bottom Line: But social Web (Web 2.0) technology alone does not create a successful online community.Building and sustaining a successful community requires an enabler and strategic community management.The paper draws on insights from an ongoing study and observation of online communities as well as experience managing and consulting a variety of online health communities.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Canadian Virtual Hospice, Toronto, ON, Canada. colleen@colleenyoung.com

ABSTRACT
Health care professionals, patients, caregivers, family, friends, and other supporters are increasingly joining online health communities to share information and find support. But social Web (Web 2.0) technology alone does not create a successful online community. Building and sustaining a successful community requires an enabler and strategic community management. Community management is more than moderation. The developmental life cycle of a community has four stages: inception, establishment, maturity, and mitosis. Each stage presents distinct characteristics and management needs. This paper describes the community management strategies, resources, and expertise needed to build and maintain a thriving online health community; introduces some of the challenges; and provides a guide for health organizations considering this undertaking. The paper draws on insights from an ongoing study and observation of online communities as well as experience managing and consulting a variety of online health communities. Discussion includes effective community building practices relevant to each stage, such as outreach and relationship building, data collection, content creation, and other proven techniques that ensure the survival and steady growth of an online health community.

Show MeSH