Last night I was joined by Diabetes Health Activist Cherise Shockley in a webinar conversation about taking your advocacy to the next level. We focused on the new trend of awesome online interaction: the elusive and exciting Twitter Chat. Cherise took us the behind-the-scenes into how she created and grew the awesome Diabetes Social Media Advocacy Chat (#DSMA). During our discussion, Cherise bravely shared her personal story from patient to Health Activist and how all of her fellow D-OC (that’s Diabetes Online Community) friends helped support her and inspire her chat. Fueled by the passion of its participants, since its inception DSMA has grown in so many ways, and with it – Cherise has found the personal inspiration to keep her going. Now DSMA dominates the Twitosphere every Wednesday night (at 9pm EST!) and isn’t stopping there. Cherise shared some of the ways the chat found its way into other factions of the web.
Here are my take-aways from Cherise’s story and her advice. Remember: you don’t have to be a Diabetes Health Activist to grab some great take-aways from the D-OC’s work. All of our health communities can really work together and share ideas – no matter what condition we focus most closely on. A great thing that Cherise spoke to is that the D-OC is super-supportive of each other and great at sharing their world. That’s something we all strive for and you don’t need to live with a condition personally to be able to support its community and share ideas! 🙂 Let’s dig in…
- Take inspiration from those around you! The idea for DSMA came to Cherise when she was participating in Dana Lewis‘ Health Care Social Media (#HCSM) chat and Amy Kiel‘s Mental Health Social Media (MHSM) chat. Cherise decided to bring a similar chat to the diabetes community.
- Connect on the go! Twitter (and a Twitter Chat) is a great advocacy venue because it is mobile – you can tweet from anywhere. In fact, I think they’ve officially replaced the old-fashioned “chat room” because they are so versatile. Great point by Cherise I hadn’t thought of before.
- Propose any ideas you have and see what others think. Your community will rally around your idea and give you the support you need to put it into action.
- Ask for help. Cherise realized that, once DSMA grew, she could benefit from having others around. She assembled a DSMA Advisory Board and shared the responsibilities and fun with others on her team.
- Be ready to commit. If you start something like a Twitter Chat – be ready to sign-on for the long haul. Cherise explained that one of the pieces of advice Dana gave her was – people will come to really expect it every week so be prepared to really committed.
- Use your Twitter interaction to try new things! After DSMA got started, Cherise was able to launch a radio show inspired by the topics discussed in DSMA Twitter Chats. And because of the great conversation – participants in DSMA are able to blog in long-form about what they discussed.
- Always watch for opportunities to branch out – they might be right nearby. Inspired by our own Health Activist Blog Carnival (warmed my heart!) and their own DSMA and D-OC interactions, Cherise and Karen Graffeo worked together with to create the DSMA Blog Carnival and Karen was inspired to start her hugely successful Diabetes Blog Week.
- Keeping people on-topic isn’t easy. Don’t expect to be able to wrangle everyone on Twitter – that’s part of the fun: you all can go off on tangents and connect in real time as your thoughts form. Cherise’s advice is: the more questions you ask during the chat, the more on-topic people are. Lots of prompts give people less time to get side-tracked and really encourage great, focused discussion.
- Find your niche and pursue it. Cherise is ready to branch out and do more webinars and more recorded conversations (including video) because she feels comfortable chatting out loud. Find what venue fits with your personality and capitalize on that – know your strengths and tap into them!
- It’s emotional! Cherise mentioned that she is often brought to tears by the stories and support she gets from her fellow Health Activists and online participants – be ready to “go there” and let your own connections happen – they will! The closer you are to your topic and the more open your community is – the stronger and, well, more emotional those bonds and projects will become. This is a really powerful thing.
That’s my recap from our webinar event! It was a great opportunity to hear from Cherise and connect with the history behind DSMA. I can’t wait to find out where Cherise and her D-OC crew goes next but I know it’s going to be fun to see!
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