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Roche sponsors Twitter-based diabetes community

Published on 05/04/12 at 11:58am
Diabetes nest image
Roche-sponsored networking site: 'Diabetes Nest'

Roche is to sponsor a Twitter-based site devoted talk about diabetes, furthering its close links with online commentators. 

‘Diabetes Nest’ ( is the brainchild of US-based medical communications agency Ignite Health, part of the inVentiv Health group.

Ignite Health has just launched a new updated version of the website, and has added Roche’s diabetes diagnostics division as its new sponsor. For Roche, the move is an extension of its existing programme of engaement with the online diabetes community. 

Most notably, these efforts centre on an annual Roche Social Media Summits.

Another aspect of the site that makes it remarkable is that the bloggers or ‘caretakers’ are paid by Ignite Health “for their time, effort and invaluable guidance,” as made clear on the site’s home page. 

As John Mack points out on his well-known Pharma Marketing Blog, this appears to be the first case of a pharma company sponsoring a full ‘community’ of bloggers - raising questions of conflicts of interest for both sides. 

Filtering and curating

The site filters and compiles Twitter-based conversations about diabetes using its own algorithm, which sorts and ranks the tweets. Ignite Health says its service helps make sense of the constant stream of information on Twitter.

“Few argue that social media has transformed how patients and their caregivers share healthcare information and find support,” said Fabio Gratton, chief experience officer at Ignite Health. 

“But the sheer volume of content can be overwhelming. So we asked ourselves how we could best help the diabetes community find and engage in the most timely, relevant and important conversations. The result is a simple, intuitive, compelling and ultimately self-sustaining diabetes social media community.” 

The service is based around four established bloggers - Diabetes Mine, Ninjabetic, and Scott’s Diabetes, Six Until Me and one commercially run site, The Diabetes Resource. 

Gina Capone (@ginacaps), founder of, and one of the Diabetes Nest’s curators, said: “If you want to find out what people touched by diabetes are talking about, the best place to find it is at the Diabetes Nest. Thought leaders, parents, healthcare professionals all in one place communicating with each other - it really is a no brainer.”

The Roche Diabetes team added a widget from the network to its social media community page, ACCU-CHEK Diabetes Link. Rob Muller, associate marketing manager for Roche Diabetes Care, said: “We are very proud to support such a great resource that can help people with diabetes stay up to date with their friends on Twitter, or even help them discover more of the diabetes online community there.”

Easier access to diabetes debate

Jeremy Franz, experience architect at Ignite Health says the service is built on existing voices within the online community, and simply organises them for users. 

“Wrapping that content into an interface that is more in line with how we naturally consume information - in a prioritised and contextual way, interspersed with comments - enables users to quickly tap into the pulse of their community.” 

The sorting and ranking algorithm is based on curator feedback, and the popularity of the commentators among the diabetes community as a whole. 

Ignite Health says the Diabetes Nest will be accessible from any computer, smartphone or tablet, thanks to the use of the latest ‘responsive design’ practices. 

On iPad and iPhone devices, users can select the option to bookmark the home screen in order to create a link for easy access, similar to a mobile app that can be downloaded from the app store.

“Regardless of source or destination, the site allows engagement with the entire diabetes universe, and that’s really important to us,” Franz added. 

In addition, updates on the top news and content featured on the Diabetes Nest are available through a weekly newsletter that delivers the top 10 curated Tweets of the week to community members. 

“The diabetes community is using social media to help support its diabetes management plan, truly making the most of Twitter’s 140 characters,” said Kerri Sparling, a Diabetes Nest curator and the author of Six Until Me, one of the first and most widely read diabetes patient blogs. 

“The Diabetes Nest highlights many of the most influential voices and topics in the diabetes Twittersphere, helping to raise the collective voice of our community.”

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