2010 was a powerful year here at WEGO Health HQ and in the world of online (and offline!) Health Activism. This was a big year for growing, defining goals, and moving from big ideas to real, tangible action. The WEGO Health team had the awesome (and invaluable) opportunity to finally connect with our online friends in person, brought Health Activists together to speak about their common goals and tell healthcare companies what their communities really need, and really watched health social media take flight. And, you know, it wasn’t easy to boil it down to just 10 favorites – but here’s what we’ve come up with! (And read on to see what I’m most looking forward to in 2011!)1. Boston Health Activist Meetups!
Two worlds collided when we brought Health Activists and Pharma together in the same room. Through respectful (and frankly, fascinating) discourse, both “sides” of the health sphere met and discussed everything from the necessity of Pharma’s participation in social media to the complex regulations healthcare companies must go through before facing the public with their product. (Learn more about “Voices to Industry” here.) As an onlooker at our Socialpalooza event and I could see the brain-gears turning as Health Activists offered their honest perspectives to Pharma reps. One of the most memorable moments was when one Pharma rep discussed the rigid regulatory climate that led to the creation of in an invented patient-character tweeting about a condition on behalf of the company. Health Activists on the panel explained that this is not ok with the online community and that patients living with a condition can easily detect an imposter. These are the pieces of insight that Health Activists want to tell healthcare companies and their consensus was: “if you want to know, just ask us!”. Check out the Socialpalooza recap for more and be on the lookout for the Voices to Industry opportunities in 2011!
5. Meeting Health Activists IRL (in real life)
As with many of you, most of our correspondence happens through the written word and occasionally on the phone. So interacting with people face-to-face that we’ve “met” online was a huge opportunity and really helped deepen the relationships we have with our community members and that all of you have with each other. There’s something about physically seeing a person and hearing their voice that really adds a new level of connection. It can be easy to forget how powerful it is to sit down and talk with someone in person and see their mannerisms and expressions – but it really is! And, on the flip side, meeting people in person actually improves interaction on social media platforms. Once you’ve really gotten to know someone’s personality, you are able to pick it out in key ways through their blogs, Twitter, and other online work in a way you weren’t before. Personally, I hope there is a lot more of this in 2011!
6. Your WEGO Health Blogs
Health Activists work in different ways. Some of you are adept at giving advice in forums while others of you work best through Facebook and Twitter. We love that and will always embrace the many forms you use to advocate. But it was great to see how many of you came by the community and shared your thoughts with us through your own WEGO Health Blog. Whether you were updating us on the latest news, sharing what your community was working on, or sharing links to your favorite sites – it added a really rich layer to the community. It was really fun, for me, to see folks start blogging and really come into their own with their writing voice. Many of the blogs were so great that they inspired new members to comment and interact, across conditions, which is exactly what we hope to do more of! You’re great storytellers and each of your perspectives is unique – I’m really looking forward to seeing how you continue to share with us and each other in the future.
Did you know Health Activists are smart? Of course you did. But did you know just how great Health Activists are when they put their minds together? Our 2010 WEGOwebinars offered a brand new way to have a meeting of the minds that also served as a real resource for others. Combining the hard work, great efforts, moving stories, genuine dedication, and sometimes even confession made for a type of webinar presentation unlike any other. In 2011, you can expect more webinars from more Health Activists and you will have the opportunity to revisit and share past webinars through our soon-to-be-released WEGOwebinar page.
8. New Groups
We’re always looking for better ways to improve conversation among Health Activists. By adding new Groups in 2010, health leaders in more specific areas were able to come together and help each other in an in-depth way. Our new groups in 2010 were: Leukemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Hepatitis, Ning for Health Activists, and Health Technology.
We hope you will continue to find the groups useful and a great way to talk leadership with other leaders dedicated to your condition that share your interests. I think our brand new Health Technology group is especially exciting!
9. Spotlights & Interviews
This year we got right to the heart of some incredible health communities and heard directly from their founders. We learned what got these leaders started on their Health Activism journeys, heard what truly excites them, and uncovered what they wish the general public knew about the cause they advocate for. Each interview was as unique as its subject, but it was easy to spot consistent themes and see just how much our community members have in common. The interviews were also a great source of inspiration for anyone seeking new ideas or encouragement to take that next step and: start blogging, try non-profit work, raise awareness, create a support network, and even influence legislation. See all our Spotlights on our Community home page and here in the WEGOblog. There is really no substitute for this feature and you can bet we’ll have even more interviews, spotlights, and features on more of you and your peers in 2011. You’re doing great work and we promise to highlight it and help you get the word out!
10. Health Activist Blog Carnival
It’s hard to believe this wasn’t always a WEGO Health staple – but our Health Activist Blog Carnival debuted in back January 2010! The Blog Carnival offered community members the chance to think about their work critically, share honestly, and talk about what keeps them going. Each month had its own focus and gave bloggers the opportunity to write about something a little bit different. By looking at advocacy from a new angle, lots of great revelations happened. Just look at all of the topics we covered! In 2011, you can expect even more of these types of activities. Here on the WEGO Health blog in particular, we’ve got a lot planned. I can guarantee more features, interviews, projects, ideas, take-aways, prompts, factoids, and exciting ways to get involved.
It was an exceptional year in Health Activism both on WEGO Health and beyond, in each of your health communities. Our WEGO Health team has lots planned for the new year and will have even more fun ways (and exciting opportunities) for you to participate in and to continue do the amazing work you’re doing!
Thanks to everyone in our community and across the online world – you always seem to always find new ways to inspire us and remind us that our work to empower you Health Activists to help others is important and totally worth it! See you next year!