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The growing use of cloud technologies, social media channels and mobile devices is transforming interactions between organizations and their customers.  Even though the healthcare sector has been slower than other industries to embrace these social media technologies, experts predict that 2014 will be a year of significant progress in how healthcare organizations interact with both patients and one another to deliver care and manage health.


The Institute for Healthcare Informatics (IMS) recently suggested that "the role of social media in healthcare and impact on patient engagement is moving to center-stage."  As previously reported, Price Waterhouse Cooper's Health Research Institute expects that engaging digitally with patients will be key to addressing healthcare consumer expectations.


Patients as well as caregivers are using social media and other online resources in increasing numbers to not only access health information, but also as a diagnostic and decision-support tool.  There is also growing recognition among healthcare organizations that social media channels can bring stakeholders closer together, engage them in deeper, more meaningful, and stronger relationships, while ensuring better outcomes.


Online communities are especially well-suited to address the demands of the empowered healthcare consumer for a more personal and engaging customer experience. The highly interactive, multi-directional nature of community platforms, through which individuals are able to share, co-create, discuss and modify user-generated content, provides a ready and potentially impactful forum for access to healthcare information and patient support. 


Branded Online Communities?  The Best of Both Worlds? 



Source:  IMS Health with IntellQ Health Annotations  


Healthcare providers who have embraced social media and online community platforms are already realizing the differentiated benefits of these new engagement channels in terms of reach, frequency, usability, and immediacy.  They are also netting significant reputation building value from a superior patient engagement experience.   
If your organization is looking for a way to enrich the patient experience trough social media, and particularly online communities, we may just be what the doctor ordered.  For more information about ways you can enhance the customer experience using online communities and/or other social media tools, just give me a call send me or an email. 
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As  Benjamin Franklin once said,


 “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  


Those of us who have been involved in the implementation of online communities for a while know how critical proper up-front planning is to their success. Many working in the online community category describe the current state of the business as something akin to the “Wild West,” and it reminds me of the early days of the “dot com” boom.  Analyst would later characterize this period as the days of “irrational exuberance,” with companies rushing to build websites with little or no consideration of customer needs and preferences, minimal business and financial planning or objectives and unattainable, unrealistic expectations.


Fortunately we all learned a great deal from the “dot com” boom and bust experience and are able to use the lessons learned to make sure we do communities right and optimize the likelihood of community success with objective up-front planning.  So, before even thinking about the technology aspects of community, the following five key steps have proven to be critical to increasing the chances of success.


  1. Above all, start by defining the goals, objectives, and success factors for your online community and how these goals and objectives will integrate with your overall marketing and business goals and objectives.
  2. Next, identify and understand the target audience(s)/community participants. 
    • Who are the targeted community users, what do you expect from them, and what expectations will they have from their participation in an online community with your organization?
    • Develop user personas and user scenarios that will describe targeted community member types, as well as their likely uses and expectations.    
  3. Based on this understanding, the next step is to put together a detailed online community plan with a set of well-defined deliverables supported by clear milestones and metrics. 
    • What online community platform, type of community (open or private), features and functionality would be most appropriate based on the needs and expectations of the  target community members and community objectives? 
    • What will the “rules of engagement,” for members and community managers, be?
    • How will community member privacy and  institutional integrity and reputation be assured in what are essentially public places?   
    • How will online communities work together with and support other social media and marketing initiatives?
    • Which metrics will be used to assess and measure online community success?
    • What resources, both financial and human, will be required to implement and support online communities?
  4. Before launching the community, be sure to identify and seed the community with relevant and engaging content that will attract and resonate with the various audiences being targeted.
    • What type of content will target audiences be interested in and value?
    • How frequently should new content be added and/or existing content be refreshed?
    • What type of content will be needed to keep audiences engaged over the long term and attract new audiences?. 
  5. Determine when, how, and how frequently to monitor and measure the online community and the process to be used for improving/adjusting community initiatives post-launch.          

If you are considering, or in the early planning stages of, an online community for your organization, please call or contact me by email for additional online community best practices from IntelliQ and/or our online community solutions partner, Get Satisfaction.

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Throughout the last year we’ve spoken to many healthcare and B2B professionals about engaging with customers through online customer communities.  While we are typically met with enthusiasm for what is an innovative, contemporary approach to customer relationship-building, we also hear about many misconceptions about online communities – what they are, how they are used, and who should (or should not) participate.  Here is our list of the top three myths about online communities:


Myth #1:  Online communities are synonymous with social networking sites.


Reality: Actually, online communities are not another social networking channel.  Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are great for people to connect, share stories and photos, and make funny commentaries.  LinkedIn, a professional networking site, is often used as a platform for community-building, but as Leader Networks CEO Vanessa DiMauro describes, communities on LinkedIn are often ineffective and “overrun with inappropriate and sales-driven content.”


While these social networking platforms are hugely popular spaces for connecting people of similar interests and sharing information, they do not allow organizations to own and manage the overall customer experience.  In contrast, online communities are often referred to as “owner” communities, as they enable organizations to control the branding, manage and organize the content and discussions, and own and mine the resulting voluminous customer feedback data.


Unlike social networking sites, online communities are owned, controlled, and branded by you.



Myth #2:  Online communities are just forums for people to complain.


Reality: Online communities are far more than complaint departments.  Customers love to share their opinions; sometimes it’s useful feedback, and sometimes it's not.  Perception is reality, though, so if a customer has an opinion – good or bad— you should want to know about it.  In an online community, all of the activity is treated as customer feedback that can be used by your organization to make meaningful improvements that are most important to your customers and will yield the best return.  Encouraging customer feedback is one way of making customers feel valued by your company and can lead to improved relationships and increased loyalty.


Experienced community managers attend to any complaints that arise in an online community, and often these responses to complaints, when handled with care and genuine courtesy, can result in positive attitude changes and build trust among your customers.



Myth #3:  Competitors will have access to trade secrets and other proprietary information available in an online community.


Reality: We often hear this concern, but online communities can be implemented as “closed” or “private” communities that securely operate behind your organization's firewall.  (This is another way in which they are vastly different from open social networking sites, as described above.)  As the owner of a private community:

  • You hand-select which customers, prospects, or other industry leaders can participate in your online community.  You send a private invitation and require a secure password for entry into your community.
  • You determine the most appropriate use cases for the community, based on your overall business strategy.  Is the community’s main purpose for industry-specific or "community of interest" specific information sharing?  Building a knowledge base for a disease specific audience?  Customer and prospect insights and new product and/or services innovation?  Market insights and research?  Generating referrals?
  • Based on the use cases identified by you and your team, you develop the initial content that encourages active participation from the members of your community.  The content needs be engaging, insightful, and valuable to your customers, and needs to be well-aligned with the goals of your community.

Customers who actively participate in private online communities do so to learn, share, connect, and contribute, and typically not to complain or badmouth your organization. You build their trust by providing valuable, useful content.

Increasingly, organizations are recognizing  the value of “social business.”   Online customer communities are effective in meeting complex needs for faster, more cost-effective, and better solutions, but there are many misconceptions about how they can be leveraged.  We’ve identified the three most common misconceptions.  Stay tuned for more to come.

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One of the questions we hear from customers and prospects most often is. . .

"How do I convince my stakeholders that an online community will solve core business problems and deliver measurable value?"


To learn more about the latest best practices for measuring, maximizing, and communicating the value of online communities, be sure to join us for an expert panel discussion, co-sponsored by IntelliQ Research and Strategy and Get Satisfaction:

How to Sell The Vision and Value of Community

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. - 2 p.m. EST

Participants: Ms. Vanessa DiMauro, founder and CEO of Leader Networks, Dr. Robert Miller, Ph.D., President and CEO of IntelliQ Research & Strategy and Ms. Lisa Sacquitne, Manager of Non-Integrated Services at SPS Commerce.

Whether you’re building a business case or simply trying to gain internal alignment, determining and selling the value of online community is a critical part of the implementation process.

Register HERE Today to join us for this interactive webinar on October 30, 2013 about calculating and communicating the value of community. And, don't just listen — but ensure that the panelists address your questions and concerns by asking them ahead of time in the Get Satisfaction community!

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CINCINNATI, OHIO and SAN FRANCISCO, September 23, 2013 — IntelliQ Research and Strategy, Inc., a full service global provider of market intelligence, research and analytics announced today that it has formed a strategic alliance and partnership with San Francisco-based online community solution provider, Get Satisfaction.

As part of this mutually beneficial agreement, Get Satisfaction will be able to leverage IntelliQ’s well-established position in the healthcare and B2B sectors, including its impressive roster of industry-leading global accounts, to expand its reach and position into these sectors, while IntelliQ will be able to provide market research and enhanced analytics services to Get Satisfaction’s growing base of online community clients.

Robert Miller, CEO of IntelliQ Research and Strategy said, “We are extremely pleased with this new relationship and we are excited to be able to bring Get Satisfaction’s robust and forward thinking online communities solution to our clients and the markets we serve. Online communities are clearly emerging as an essential method and platform for gaining continuous customer and market insights. Adds Miller, “Providing innovative tools that enable our clients to gain insights into their customers and markets more quickly and economically is a critical element of our business strategy, and Get Satisfaction’s industry leading solution is an essential capability we are proud to bring to our clients.”

Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction, states “Our partnership with IntelliQ gives us direct access to leading companies we are looking to work with to help realize the opportunities engaged communities can bring to their businesses. We are seeing increased demand for clients in the healthcare and B2B sectors and know that the effect of community on their customer experience and success will be profound.”

About IntelliQ Research and Strategy

IntelliQ Research and Strategy is a leading market intelligence and research consulting firm focused on providing strategic insights to industry leading clients in the healthcare and B2B sectors. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio and State College, Pennsylvania, IntelliQ brings value to its clients through sophisticated data processing, marketing sciences and analytics capabilities as well as deep industry knowledge and expertise in healthcare and a variety of B2B sectors.

About Get Satisfaction

Get Satisfaction helps customer-centric organizations engage millions of consumers in meaningful conversations about their products and services, every day. The Get Satisfaction community platform transforms these conversations into powerful user-generated marketing content and insights, enabling businesses to create differentiated customer experiences, acquire more customers and bring new innovations to market. Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., Get Satisfaction's customers include Citrix, HootSuite, Intuit and Kellogg’s.

Start a conversation with your customers today: www.getsatisfaction.com.

Media Contacts:

Bert Kollaard                                                                                                                           Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer                                                                                     IntelliQ Research and Strategy, Inc.                                                                               bkollaard@intelliqresearch.com                                                                                             513-605-3633

Bateman Group for Get Satisfaction                                                                                     getsatisfaction@bateman-group.com                                                                                   415- 503-1818

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