The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) wanted to improve its advocacy and public awareness efforts through contacts with members, while avoiding bombarding members with email messages.
The OCNA had several key components in place to improve online communications. It has an active Website (www.ovariancancer.org) and emarketing lists. As it ramped up advocacy efforts, the OCNA grew concerned, however, about the overall increase in emarketing it was sending members. The optout rate increased. Georgiana Morales, the OCNA's Director of Marketing and Communications, helped lead an increase in the use of social media, with the Inspire-developed Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Support Community as a linchpin.
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is the foremost advocate for women with ovarian cancer in the United States. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, the organization advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) organization established in 1997.
Partnering with Inspire to create the Ovarian Cancer Support Community, OCNA provided a safe and secure place for the community to connect and created a vibrant, active community that continues to grow daily. This was a first for OCNA.
Although OCNA is an advocacy organization, it acknowledged the need for its own community to build a relationship with advocates beyond simple 'action alerts'. Developing the online community allows OCNA education staff to refer patients to the Inspire-OCNA community for information and support. The community expands OCNA's capacity for support and outreach.
OCNA quickly discovered that the OCNA Support Community became a more efficient place to post advocacy messages. "It was not so in your face" as constant emarketing pieces, Morales explained. "Our people go on Inspire because they want to talk to each other. We can post upcoming events and key messages in a special 'News from OCNA' page within the OCNA Inspire community."
Partnering with Inspire was part of an overall strategy that included creating an OCNA Facebook page and Twitter account to leverage social media to increase outreach effectiveness, Morales said.
Responses to OCNA advocacy messages increased, Morales said, allowing the organization to reduce its emarketing campaigns. "We didn't want to bother people with too many emails," she noted. Many people started opting out of emails because they were getting too many messages in their inboxes. By using these online communities, we can reach people in places where they are already visiting. Our community wants to be on these sites, so when they see notices or messages from us it is not so invasive and they are more likely to take action."
OCNA has seen its Inspire community grow, as well as its Facebook and Twitter accounts, in just one year, to over 10,000 individuals.
"Having this community," Morales said, "brought patients and caregivers together under the OCNA umbrella and allow its members to feel part of not only their local support/patient organizations, but part of a national movement of the ovarian cancer community." Having an Inspire community allowed OCNA to have an active channel to listen to the community, find out what they are talking about, caring about and to get feedback on current initiatives in a more immediate fashion. It also has provided a place to respond to news and information about ovarian cancer and ensure that advocates know OCNA's positions on relevant topics.
OCNA Support Community members write over 8,000 posts per month. The quality and freshness of those posts leads to high ranking in search engines for ovarian cancer-related search terms. The community's search engine prominence fosters its continued growth, and in turn the audience for OCNA's advocacy efforts grows. The level of engagement seen in this community is common in Inspire communities, because Inspire provides topic-focused communities with health-specific features. That stands in contrast to sites like Twitter and Facebook, which are not health-specific.
With more than 80 partnerships with leading national patient advocacy organizations, Inspire (www.inspire.com) creates and manages secure online communities, organized by medical condition. Inspire communities are moderated, secure, and free to nonprofits. Inspire communities give nonprofits a turnkey social media platform for messaging, fundraising and more. Contact Danielle Leach, Inspire's Director of Partnerships, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn how your association can benefit from this free service.