Poor community engagement on chornic patients community

(Margarita Kirillova) #1

Hi, I am managing an online patient community of about 30,000 members with various chronic conditions (diabetes, MS, arthritis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, Chron’s, cancer…). Obviously, a lot of members are over 50 and are not at ease with the Internet and with technology in general.

We have good acquisition rates every month, however the interaction levels are low. We only get about 150 comments per month.

What could we do to encourage people to share on our forum? They do read the discussions and articles that are posted, but only few of them react.

Would appreciate any ideas/tips/advice for this specific type of community. Thank you!

(Robert McIntosh) #2

It is very hard to answer without having experience of the specific site. A couple of thoughts, or suggestions.

  1. When you say they are joining and posting at a rate of 150 per month, are they actually signing up to the community, or to the broader service? It might actually help to separate them in some way, to distinguish between new potential members, and actual engaged members

  2. Community interaction (even reading) is not just about providing the service, but about engagement with the individual. Do your audience WANT a service (solutions to issues) or is the subject something they identify with (so they actually want to talk about the subject, or are you trying to get them to engage with something they would rather not think about)?

  3. The way you describe the situation reminds me of the issue of blogs (“why does nobody comment on the stuff I post?”). The point is that it is driven by your vision and perspective. What you could focus on is getting a small group together of members to lead the charge and tell you what they want to talk about… You’ll find others react much better

  4. Number of posts is not the only metric. If they are finding the content they need, and are reading and following links, maybe they are satisfied. Have you measured this, or asked them?

Good luck!

(Margarita Kirillova) #3

Hi and thanks a lot for your comment and for your insights! I appreciate your taking time to respond to my post!
I’ll try to answer your questions:

  1. Yes only registered members are allowed to comment. Also, our community is divided into lots of smaller communities, per chronic condition. So There are discussion groups for specific conditions and event for the sub-topics like “treatments”, or “everyday life”, etc.

  2. What we put forward in our ads and emailing campaigns is the possibility to share experiences and talk to other patients who are in a similar situation (have similar health issues, symtoms, go through the same treatments, etc). We don’t really offer solutions to their issues. So I like to think tha the reason they join is because they really want to learn more about how others are living with the same disease, and to talk about things that other people even their families and friends don’t really understand. What we also do is we offer our patients to answer surveys on different conditions and treatments from time to time. This is really a value because they can be part of the process to improve healthcare. They can give their opinion on treatments, or say what they expect from a new treatment which is being developed, or test a health app and say if it brings benefits to patients and in what way it can be ameliorated. So our ultimate goal is to create a community of patients, who are not afraid to talk about their disease, to learn more by exchanging experiences, and to contribute to medical research.

  3. I totally agree with you on that. That is why we have recently launched the Ambassadors programme where the most engaged and active members will play an important role in defining topics for discussion, encouraging others to talk, promoting the importance of sharing information to help each other and millions of other patients. I hope this will work.

  4. Yes, it is just one of our metrics: we also measure number of forum views, connection rate per month, per trimester, etc. These ones are quite satisfying, and are slowly growing, but the number of comments is something that worries us most, as this is actually our most valuable content. When members join our website and see plenty of interactions they are more eager and less afraid to get involved as well, but when there are empty threads well it’s not very attractive and does not provide the info the members are looking for…