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How to Build a Thriving Community on Your Website

In 2014, The COPD Foundation launched a branded online community on their website.

They named it COPD360social and saw 1,000 member sign-ups in the first month alone. Today, COPD360social has over 7,000 members and engagement is through the roof.

View this presentation to learn how Vincent Malanga (CIO) and Sara Latham (Communications Director) planned and executed their community strategy.

You’ll hear how they engaged with influencers before the launch (and what they asked them to do) and how they generated off-the-charts engagement, all without spending a dollar on outbound marketing.

After view this presentation, you’ll have actionable ideas to increase user engagement on your own website.

How to Build a Thriving Community on Your Website

  1. 1. Sara Latham Communications Director Vincent Malanga CIO
  2. 2. AGENDA • COPD Foundation background and context • Evolution of Foundation and changing needs of people we serve • Genesis of COPD360social • Timeline • Technology considerations • Planning and recruitment • Questions and feedback
  3. 3. The COPD Foundation’s mission is to prevent and cure chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to improve the lives of all people affected by COPD.
  4. 4. COPD360socialCOPD360research Patient-Powered Research Network - integrated registry and research platform Online social engagement, education and collaboration EVOLUTION
  5. 5. CHANGING FACE OF OUR COMMUNITY • COPD no longer a “disease of the elderly” • COPD affects more women than men • Most of our community uses some form of social media on a daily basis with Facebook being the modality most commonly used • Individuals wanted a place where they could go and connect with others that went beyond traditional listserves
  6. 6. SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT SURVEY • Conducted April 2014 • 137 respondents • 72.3% patients • 17.5% caregivers • 10.2% know someone with COPD • Much more engaged with social media than we had thought • Read blogs on health a few times a week for information • 86% were extremely or somewhat likely to join an online community
  11. 11. COPD360social
  12. 12. GOALS OF COPD360SOCIAL • Provide an interactive community platform for patients, family members, caregivers and medical professionals • Build a community of empowered and engaged patient advocates • Add a social and dynamic element to • Increase SEO through frequent crowdsourced updates • Support recruitment of COPD360research • Contribute to our understanding of COPD
  13. 13. TIMELINE • Spring 2014 – discussion internally about how best to engage our community and tie together research and social platform • June 2014 – environmental scan of community and due diligence • July – October 2014 – customization of COPD360social • August and September 2014 – development of guidelines, seeded content, Q&A, recruitment and promotional materials, graphic identity • October 2014 – webinars to partners, dissemination of social media toolkit to partners, population of site with content • November 19, 2015 – Launch on World COPD Day, press release via BusinessWire
  14. 14. TECH/POLICY CONSIDERATIONS • Determination of which community features to include • Don’t want to overwhelm members with too much functionality • Keep conversations in a single location • Identification of a community manager • Relates well to others, is “one” of them • Knowledgeable on subject matter • Willing to consistently review analytics to improve content moving forward • Development of guidelines, privacy policy and rights and responsibilities
  15. 15. RECRUITMENT • Identification of key influencers • Key to ask early for support and early participation to spark conversation • Conduct training webinars to introduce influencers to site in advance of launch • Creation of seeded content • Three months of seeded content developed • Site was populated with robust content in advance of launch • COPDF staff given concrete instructions and deliverables
  16. 16. PROMOTION • Launched during World COPD Day • BusinessWire press release • E-blasts to community through newsletter (approximately 50,000) • Articles in COPD Digest and Lung Health Professional • Banners on COPDF website • 3 month social media editorial calendar
  17. 17. WHAT DOES COPD360SOCIAL LOOK LIKE NOW? • As of September 14, 2015: 7,385 registrants • 20% caregivers, family members or friends • 35% healthcare providers or medical affiliates • 45% COPD patients • Continually adding new members • Enhancements planned for 2016 • Paid advertising to launch in Q3/Q4
  18. 18. CONTACT INFO • Questions about strategy, marketing or recruitment • Sara Latham ( • Questions regarding technology, enhancements or integration • Vinny Malanga ( COPD Foundation website:
  19. 19. Visit the DNN website for further information COPD Foundation’s website is powered by: