One association decided to revamp its online member community to align better with a recent rebranding. Member input and leadership buy-in were key to the successful relaunch, which happened at an especially crucial time.
The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists rebranded itself in January to better represent its member base by updating the specialty “diabetes educator” in its original name to “diabetes care and education specialist,” which more accurately reflects the profession.
A planned reboot of ADCES’s online member community was already in the works when the communications and marketing team saw an opportunity to align that upgrade with ADCES’s redefined mission. Kevin Schaefer, ADCES’s online community program manager, said, “We gave members a new platform with enhanced tools so they could connect better with one another and their peers.”
The rebranded ADCES Connect houses a broad array of member-focused groups, including statewide coordinating bodies, region- and city-specific local networking groups, and communities of interest focused on practice areas within diabetes care. Ease of use was paramount, Schaefer said. Built on the Higher Logic platform, the community offers a new layout requiring fewer clicks to get to important information, as well as easier profile setup, cross-posting among forums, and peer messaging.
When ADCES made the switch, it wasn’t just turning off one website and turning another one on. Like any significant change in member offerings, “[getting] buy-in was huge,” Schaefer said.
Updating the online portal required input from the board of directors and volunteer leaders. ADCES surveyed members to assess what worked and what didn’t in the previous online community so they could make meaningful, relevant changes. “We took a lot of the information we received from members to heart,” Schaefer said. Ultimately, his team created a plan, took it to the board of directors, and got their support.
Some ADCES members in more sparsely populated states like Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska are the only diabetes care and education specialist for 100 miles or more, making ADCES Connect especially valuable, Schaefer said. This improved access to other experts gives members “an opportunity to utilize this community in a much more comprehensive way.”
There’s no perfect time to introduce a new member online community, but ADCES Connect’s launch coincided with COVID-19, when members needed optimal connectivity to manage an avalanche of changing information and to exchange resources with their peers. Schaefer said a top priority right now is making sure members have the most up-to-date information as they navigate how to best serve patients with diabetes, especially in a landscape that switched quickly from in-person care to telehealth.
Schaefer said ADCES has hosted numerous live—and maxed-out—Q&A webinars on their online education platform and posted the information from the webinars to ADCES Connect so members have one place to follow the discussion. Members can communicate with each other seamlessly during this crisis, when access to information—and one another—is more crucial than ever.