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Why some online communities succeed and others fail


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Many health apps include social elements and seek to build online communities. Some succeed and thrive, while others languish. Why?

My fellow panelists, Jenn Sprung (@mindthecompany) and Bruce Baskerville (@CrushTheCrave), and I (@colleen_young) explored this question at Apps for Health (@appsforhealth) on May 16.

I shared best practices of Community Management That Works – How to build a thriving online community. Bruce presented the app Crush the Crave as a Case Study – Successes and lessons learned integrating social in a health app. And Jenn reminded us Don’t Forget the User – First-hand stories from the hand that holds the app.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Technology
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Why some online communities succeed and others fail

  1. 1. Why do some online communitiessucceed & others fail??#appsforhealthLessons from a:CommunityManagerCommunityMemberAppDeveloper
  2. 2. Community management that worksHow to build and sustain a thrivingonline health communityColleen Young
  3. 3. Peer-to-peer health care“PewInternet Project data shows that ifyou can enable an environment in whichpeople can share, they will and thebenefits will entice others to join.”~ Susannah Fox, Pew Internet &American Life ProjectExcerpt from Susannah Fox’s Medicine 2.0, 2011 Keynote address
  4. 4. My story
  5. 5. What is an online community?A group of people who share astrong common interest, formrelationships and interact online.
  6. 6. Why some succeed and others failTo succeed:• Understand and establish your domain• Build a sense of community• Develop a strategy according to thecommunity‟s lifecycle stageWenger E. et al., 2002.Blanchard and Markus, 2004.Iriberri A. and Leroy G., 2008.
  7. 7. The Domainis the strong common interest thatinspires people to participate in andcontribute to the growth of thecommunity.
  8. 8. Sense of community• Membership: feeling of belonging• Identity: goals of members match those of themembership• Influence: members feel they can influenceand be influenced• Attachment: members share an emotionalconnectionMcMillan and Chavis, 1986Blanchard and Markus, 2004
  9. 9. Community life cycleIriberri A. and Leroy G., 2008.Millington R., 2013.2.Establishment3.Maturity4.MitosisDeath1.Inception
  10. 10. Inception• Focus on growth• Develop relationships with potentialmembers• Nurture an active core group• Foster tone and styleThe community reaches critical mass when > 50%of growth and activity is generated by members.Millington R.
  11. 11. Establishment• Focus on activity• Deepen sense of community• Broaden outreach• Create content for and about thecommunity50 to 90% of growth and activity is generated bymembers.Millington R.
  12. 12. Maturity• Focus on scaling the community• Maintain sense of community• Assess and optimize processes• Co-create content and developcollective valueMore than 90% of growth and activity is generatedby members.Millington R.
  13. 13. Mitosis• Focus on division and expansion• Monitor for subcommunitydevelopments• Consult community• Conceive and establish new communityRepeat life cycle process for each new community.Millington R.
  14. 14. Measure for successMeasure:• Growth• Activity• Sense of communityIn order to:• Grow• Improve• Report value
  15. 15. Founded by:Crush the Crave™:A Social Media and mHealth Quit SmokingInterventionN. Bruce Baskerville & Stephanie FilsingerMay 16, 2013AppsforHealth 2013
  16. 16. • 24% of 18 to 29 years oldsmoke.• 69% of mobile users 25-34years of age ownsmartphones.• Need for evidence-based appdesign• A platform for futureresearch to assess reach andeffectiveness.Help available anytime and anywhereCheck-out of mHealth for SmokingCessation - Crush the Crave™
  17. 17. Crush the Crave™ Social MediaChannels17,000+ likes on Facebook700+ Twitter followers1,000+ App installs(V1.0 & 2.0)950+ total Views
  18. 18. Crush the Crave™ Promotion &Media Activity• Media releases on April 26, 2012 and April 15, 2013––– Considerable newspaper and online media coverage– 3 radio spots, 2 TV spots – CTV „The Beat‟ & CTV local news– 60% increase in app downloads• Linking to our partners at Leave the Pack Behind and the CanadianCancer Society• Posters and stickers• Global News article on September 20, 2012– CTC labeled one of the top 5 medical apps in Canada
  19. 19. • Customized quit plan• Simple tracking of smoking andcraving• Health and monetary benefitcalculators/ feedback ontriggers• Geo-tagging• Supportive text messagestailored to user• Graphic displays of performance• Reminders and push notifications• Virtual awards of milestonesachieved• Connection to social networksfor support (e.g. Facebook)• Share success with friends• Interactive social distractions• Leaderboards to show progress• Evidence-based serviceinformation (e.g. NRT)• Evidence-based help (e.g.dealing with cravings orrelapse)• 3rd party endorsements• Developed with user input• Trustworthy data collectionCredibilitySocialSupportTaskSupportDialogueSupportCrush the Crave™ - Evidence InformedDesign and Features for Quitting SmokingAdapted from: Oinas-Kukkonen & Harjumaa, 2008
  20. 20. Enabling Support – Crush the CraveFacebook Comment Examples
  21. 21. 21Enabling Engagement – Crush the CraveUser Likes to Facebook Posts (April 2013)Crush the Crave Expandsto iOS with Bundle of NewFeatures to Help UsersStop SmokingI quit smoking justover 1 month agoand Ive never feltbetterDoes anyone remember theFRIENDS (TV Show) episode whenChandler tries to quit smoking?Maybe he should have tried ourapp! www.crushthecrave.caFill in the blank! Ivepushed the CRAVEbutton _____ timestoday. #CrushtheCrave
  22. 22. Lesson Learned - The AudienceReached May Surprise You!
  23. 23. 23Lesson Learned - Engaging onFacebook with CAT Power!VS.
  24. 24. Lesson Learned - Moderators areIMPORTANTMarch 19thPost - “We’reback!”April 29thWIN aniPhone526 Moderator Posts in AprilNo Moderator Posts in February
  25. 25. Lesson Learned - Impact of SocialMedia Support on Quitting SmokingBREAK IT OFF: SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN00. Telephonecounselling32%14%QuitSmoking(30dayPPA)Percent Quit Smoking:Social Media vs. TelephoneCounselingp = .001
  26. 26. Next Steps• Ongoing monitoring of implementation (reach, usage andoutcomes)• Quantitatively via web analytics• Qualitatively via NVIVO• CIHR grant application to determine impact and cost-effectiveness of Crush the Crave• Continue reaching out and working with end-users andpartners such as Leave the Pack Behind• Build a persuasive technology for behaviour changecommunity of practice• Continue learning
  27. 27. Acknowledgements• A huge thank you to Lindsay Taylor & LTPB for theirexpertise, ongoing contributions, and for allowing us to borrowheavily from the Smoke/Quit booklets for the app content pages.• Thank you to IMP for their social media expertise, developmentand promotion efforts.• Thank you to our Team of Propel Staff & Investigators.• Thank you to Health Canada, Federal Tobacco Control Strategy.27
  28. 28. Cookies and Kisses
  29. 29. DiscussionColleen Young@Colleen_YoungBruce Baskerville@CrushTheCraveJennifer Sprung@mindthecompanyThank you