[ Nutrition ]

Building Better Social Networks: Beyond Likes, Follows and Hashtags

A total of 677 probands (EGO) and 3033 social network partners (ALTER) were included in the study. The Microclinic Social Network Behavioral Health Program provides microclinic (MC) groups—consisting of approximately 2-8 individuals from pre-existing social networks (friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, etc)—with shared access to diabetes education, technology, and group support to promote weight and metabolic control through diet, exercise, medication adherence, and blood pressure management. Consumers are increasingly taking the word of recommendations from friends and the opinions they read online over the traditional messages they see on television or in print magazines. It currently has almost 14,700 members. No posting with a judgmental tone. “Our goal is to serve as a complement to those efforts and expand the reach to more people with fun and beautiful experiences that represent the best of the consumer web,” Duffy said. Network members were polled about fingerstick blood glucose monitors, continuous glucose monitors, and insulin delivery devices, including insulin pumps and insulin pens.

Importantly, Glu, a website for individuals with type 1 diabetes and their caregivers recently launched. 95% of users permitted re-contact. And by communities, I mean networks that build real, tangible relationships between people who share an identity or interest, whether it be a profession, medical diagnosis, political candidate, sports team, social cause or subculture. We used the design science approach for mobile application design, and real-life user testing and focus group meetings to test the application over a 12-week period with 7 participants. In addition, three logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine whether ESN’s indicators are correlated with health behaviors. “There are dozens and dozens of lifestyle modification programs out there, but most of them do not yield long-term sustained effects and are not designed to propagate health to communities as a whole,” said Ding, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH. old.

But as social networks evolved, the world naturally and collectively gravitated to more familiar connections. As more people joined networks and connected to high school friends, extended family, college classmates and professional colleagues, the people we already knew started to consume the majority of our time online. Many of my Facebook friends were also at the Children With Diabetes conference. However, many sites do not identify the people making posts, putting the trustworthiness of online social networking tools into question. Over time, however, economic resources also enable attainment of educational credentials, broaden social networks, and expand lifestyle opportunities and choices available. Don’t hashtags bring together people around interests? The most popular hashtag movements aggregate people’s perspectives in one place.

They are fantastic at demonstrating energy around an idea, but they are missing the opportunity to build towards concentrated, sustained action, support, learning and real relationships. I was not permitted to complete my registration unless I checked off one of the boxes to receive information from Novo Nordisk. It’s the limitations of the software. We can do better than platforms that require a convoluted combination of hashtags and poorly organized numbers for questions and answers to “have a conversation.” No one should have to work this hard to chat. For people trying to connect with those who share their identity or interest, sifting through junk to get to something valuable is simply wasting time. That an app dedicated to building relationships between people navigating Type 1 Diabetes didn’t already exist was a missed opportunity that Beyond Type 1 is filling. Medtronic posted about a woman who shared about her two successful pregnancies using an insulin pump.


For brands with a passionate customer base, advocacy organizations, not-for-profits, authors, influencers and anyone with the desire to build a community, these identity networks create a powerful engine of sustained action and durable relationships that outlast any individual campaign, book or hashtag. This isn’t throwing people together in an empty channel or forum online. Imagine a new world where the network plays the role of a host. Although, network approaches’ application in medical care research is fairly new, in many scientific disciplines such as neurosciences, molecular life sciences, and public health, it has been used. As this same new member shares more about their interests, their feed becomes more personalized and they see the most popular and highest quality conversations happening in the topics they care about. Among the more frequently-accessed social media sites were Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Organizing and connecting your community more deeply in the same place also removes the friction and arduous work currently needed to connect the right people to each other or organize events.

Imagine tapping the most active members in a particular geography to host a meetup. An identity network already knows which members are in the same location and can take care of inviting, managing replies and — through APIs — can even suggest a venue without requiring the network host to lift a finger. With these new models (and the powerful technology behind them), we can finally retire the simple, chronological group comment thread, event page or chat room paradigms created when we accessed the internet from a dial-up connection. Facebook Groups will remain for small groups and Meetup will still be there for local groups not connected to a larger network, but when you want to build an army, the savviest leaders will turn to the organizing power of identity networks to build stronger, deeper relationships at scale. It’s about them, not you. If you want to build real connections and sustained engagement between members, share the spotlight. At Mightybell, as we’ve introduced new features like polls, questions and groups, we’ve seen the percentage of contributing members double across our roughly 50,000 networks.

If you’re heading off to college with diabetes, do not be afraid to get involved! Then, as more of your members engage in the network, you as the host can step back and see a self-organizing community emerge. Encourage members to share ideas, stories and experiences, not advice. The one thing dead communities have in common? Advice. It’s not inviting as a reason to join a new network. Much more inviting are similar people sharing their practical ideas, stories, experiences and current dilemmas with each other in a convenient mobile app.

Create the conditions for sharing stories and practical ideas, and your network will become more valuable almost immediately. Choose icebreakers over listicles. The biggest mistake we see over and over again is a host repurposing generic “content” they’ve created for content marketing. The sad truth is that a listicle built to drive sharing on LinkedIn doesn’t spark conversation among new members in a community. Rather, we’ve seen dramatically better results with a portfolio of conversation starters — or “engagement strategies” — that seek to offer members multiple ways of contributing to and participating in the network. In addition to things like multiple choice polls, live chats, hangouts and meetups, the best engagement strategies include introductions, topics, hot or cold polls, percentage polls, questions and prompts. Think about them as a portfolio to use in rotation to bring in more members to contribute and share their stories.

As we use these today, we regularly see over 50% of members contributing to an identity network. That’s a far cry from the accepted rule that says only 1% of people contribute to networks while the rest of us consume. Likes, shares, views, hashtags and follows are no way to organize in a live, social and mobile-first world. Further maximizing of engagement through elements such as gamification provides continuing salience of issues around health, nutrition, and physical activity. To build powerful, effective, sustained communities, we need to think beyond them. Identity networks are already unlocking new connections across the three billion-strong graph of humans on mobile. The technology is here.

The only thing you need is to know who you’re going to bring together.

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