Building Online Community - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Building Online Community


Agency Confidential


Reaching out to each other

In the end, what made the UK Web site unique was something recovery groups have known about for years—nothing is more powerful than two or more people with the same disease in a "room" sharing their problems. The UK site offered community (albeit rudimentary) to Crohn's patients, which was what was driving the engagement. Subsequent one-on-one research with patients confirmed that the ability to connect with others was a deeply meaningful differentiator for people with this socially debilitating condition.

Listening to patients online

A study of patients' online discussions also yielded several key, actionable insights. For example, analysis showed that while the majority of patients were seeking advice on dealing with the condition, there was a strong and vocal group of advice givers. Users also seemed much more interested in information on how to live their lives as normally as possible than in specific treatment content. This was crucial to telling the Crohn's story in a new way. To be effective, any messaging to this group had to focus on practical, day-to-day advice for coping with the disease before working in themes of how a treatment might help them to better cope.

Bill Drummy is Chairman and CEO of Heartbeat Digital. He can be reached at


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