Social Media Week is September 23-27, 2013, with a mission to “capture, curate and share the most meaningful ideas, trends, and best practices with regard to technology and social media’s impact on business, society and culture.” In honor of this, we reached out to several members of the diabetes online community (DOC) to get their insights on how and why they use social media to connect and engage with others.
Bill created his first diabetes video in 2007 and now his videos have received more than one million views. He was awarded the 2009 TuDiabetes.org Creative Mind award voted on by the DOC. His award-winning videos for “Making Sense of Diabetes” led the way in spreading awareness of diabetes through Internet video.
How do you think social media helps the diabetes community?
Social media adds tremendous value to so many people with diabetes. The peer support gives people understanding from a source that feels the same way. Social media interaction can also give so many people a sense of purpose; sharing experiences to help others in need is fulfilling on so many levels. I work as the Community Manager for Glu; it is my favorite for many reasons. It’s a growing diabetes community with such positivity and encouragement, and also offers the opportunity to get involved with research with questions and surveys. It makes me feel as if my voice is getting heard, where before it wasn’t.
Kate was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June 2005. She turned to the Internet because it was difficult to find a diabetes support group in Northern Arizona. Now others have recognized her Kate’s-Sweet-Success blog as one of the “Best of the ‘Betes” in the community.
What tips would you share with a person just starting to engage with social media?
If you don’t understand something, just ask! It’s ok to lurk, to just read what others are saying and jump in when it feels right. I use Twitter specifically for connecting with the diabetes online community; there is so much knowledge, support and camaraderie to be found. Search for #diabetes or #dsma and you will be pleasantly surprised by what you can find. Twitter is the best place to find fellow PWDs. There’s no better way to get your feet wet and meet wonderful people.
Through her blog, Mila shares her day-to-day experiences and provides support to the Latino community. She has been recognized as a “World Diabetes Day Hero” by the International Diabetes Foundation and is a member of Diabetes Advocates.
How has social media helped with diabetes advocacy efforts?
Today’s social media networks have become one of the most effective and instant ways to reach the general population. Using social media to raise awareness has allowed us to bring our message of education, support and empowerment to thousands of families affected by diabetes. It’s the perfect tool to let people know they are not alone. I enjoy the many benefits Facebook provides like sharing images, videos or a note, the private inbox, chats and closed groups, which allow you to customize and have a more personal relationship with your readers.
Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007, when he was stationed in Germany as a Captain on active duty in the U.S. Army. Ryan is a Crossfit™ addict and shares information about traveling while living with diabetes.
How has social media helped you with your type 1 diabetes diagnosis?
The diabetes online community is amazing! I’ve learned so much over the years from other diabetics. There is no other way I could connect with so many other diabetics without the online community we have. Since diabetes is a self-management disease, we really learn best from each other, whether on blogs, forums, or just chatting on Facebook. I try to do my part in this community by showing others that diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from going anywhere or doing anything.
How do you balance time to engage on social media?
My smart phone helps me balance my time on social media. I can check all my social media accounts sitting in the parking lot at school, on break at work, when my wife falls asleep watching a movie, or during a commercial break. Other times if I’m not occupied I’ll check it when I get a notification. I check Facebook first because many of those are my personal friends, and it’s easier to see important diabetes research updates. However, if it is family time, I’ll wait to check social media because family comes first.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 19 years ago, Victoria built a network of support to help her manage her diabetes. Victoria also writes an informative and inspirational blog and participates in the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes after becoming a cyclist just three years ago.
What are some of the benefits you have experienced from connecting with the DOC through social media?
I’ve learned about new research, new technology, political efforts in diabetes funding and additional perspectives through connecting with others online. I learned about the continuous glucose monitor online as well as the newer insulin pumps available since I last wore one as a child. Another tremendous benefit is connecting with other diabetic athletes. As a beginner cyclist, it’s been beneficial to read blogs and commentaries from other cyclists with type 1 diabetes. It helps me plan and manage my own exercise routines, as well as try things I wouldn’t have considered on my own. It’s made a great difference in my riding.
Many thanks to Bill, Kate, Mila, Ryan, Tim and Victoria for sharing their input regarding social media and diabetes. It’s interesting to learn how others spend their time in the social media space and what they get out of engaging with others online. Now I want to know how you’re celebrating, or participating in, Social Media Week and what social media platforms and/or communities you find most useful (or downright fun). Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
All the best,
Disclosure: Bill Woods, Kate Cornell, Mila Ferrer, Ryan Attar, Tim Brand and Victoria Cumbow received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.
Social Media Week is owned and operated by Crowdcentric Media LLC.
Crossfit is a trademark of Crossfit, Inc.