Community management that works: How to build and sustain a thriving online health community
Colleen Young  (see her health care social media blog) describes the community management strategies as well as the resources, the challanges and the expertise needed to build and maintain a thriving online health community. Her paper draws on insights from an ongoing study and observation of online communities as well as experience managing and consulting a variety of online health communities. Discussion includes effective community building practices relevant to each developmental stage of the community, such as outreach and relationship building, data collection, content creation, and other techniques that ensure the survival and steady growth of an online health community.
Enabling community through social media
Anatoliy Gruzd and Caroline Haythornthwaite  demonstrate how social network analysis provides a vocabulary and set of techniques for examining interaction patterns via social media. Using the case of the #hcsmca online discussion forum (hscmca stands for Health Care Social Media Canada), this paper highlights what has been and can be gained by approaching online community from a social network perspective, as well as providing an inside look at the structure of the #hcsmca community. Social network analysis was used to examine structures in a 1-month sample of Twitter messages with the hashtag #hcsmca (3871 tweets, 486 unique posters). Network connections were considered present if the individual was mentioned, replied to, or had a post retweeted.
Network analyses revealed patterns of interaction that characterized the community as comprising one component, with a set of core participants prominent in the network due to their connections with others. Analysis showed the social media health content providers were the most influential group based on in-degree centrality. However, there was no preferential attachment among people in the same professional group, indicating that the formation of connections among community members was not constrained by professional status.
Growing a professional network to over 3000 members in less than four years
Noreen Frisch et al.  analyzed “InspireNet”, a virtual professional network for health professionals permitting documentation of when and how professionals take up Web 2.0 and social media. Overall evaluation methods included tracking website use, conducting two member surveys, and soliciting member feedback through focus groups and interviews with those who participated in electronic communities of practice (eCoPs) and other stakeholders.
Network growth exceeded all expectations. Members engaged with varying aspects of the network’s virtual technologies, such as teams of professionals sharing a common interest, research teams conducting their work, and instructional webinars open to network members. Members used wikis, blogs, and discussion groups to support professional work, as well as a members’ database with contact information and areas of interest. Nonetheless, creation of a Web 2.0 and social media platform is not sufficient, in and of itself, to attract or sustain a vibrant community of professionals interested in improving their practice. Essential support includes instruction in the use of Web-based activities and time management, a biweekly e-Newsletter, regular communication from leaders, and an annual face-to-face conference.
 Young, C. (2013). Community management that works: How to build and sustain a thriving online health community. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(6). Google Scholar
 Gruzd, A., & Haythornthwaite, C. (2013). Enabling Community Through Social Media. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(10). Google Scholar.
 Frisch, N., Atherton, P., Borycki, E., Mickelson, G., Cordeiro, J., Lauscher, H. N., & Black, A. (2014). Growing a Professional Network to Over 3000 Members in Less Than 4 Years: Evaluation of InspireNet, British Columbia’s Virtual Nursing Health Services Research Network. Journal of medical Internet research, 16(2). Google Scholar.