New Zealand: Underwriting Communities

I spoke at a conference last year about Gonzo Marketing and the move towards underwriting online communities rather than online advertising to static portals as branding model. Here’s a community around supporting people with diabetes in New Zealand.

Renima Malhotra and Dr Rosemary Stockdale.
Renima Malhotra and Dr Rosemary Stockdale.

Online support for diabetes sufferers

The thousands of New Zealanders with diabetes may soon be able to join an online community to seek information and support from others with the condition.

On line communities dedicated to people with a wide range of conditions are springing up all over the world. Now researchers based in the Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences are exploring the need for a virtual community of diabetes suffers and the elements that would make it successful.

“We want to find out if it would be beneficial to the diabetic community to have an up and running interactive website or not,” says Dr Rosemary Stockdale.

“If there was a virtual space for people with diabetes to come and interact, we want to find out what these people would need from such an online community. To answer the questions that arise in relation to developing a site, we will also be looking at the elements of other sites for people with chronic diseases and what makes them successful, vibrant communities.”

“Often people who have been diagnosed with diabetes do not want to tell their friends or workmates. But they do need information and support in learning to manage their condition. Because chronic diseases are the ones that call for the longest term resources, it would seem that a dedicated site could offer many benefits, including saving costs,” says Dr Stockdale.

She says working out who should be involved in setting up and running such a website is also part of the study.

The initial research to identify a framework for developing the website is being conducted by Renima Malhotra, who is doing a postgraduate diploma in Business Administration majoring in information systems.

The project supervisor, Dr Stockdale, recently established mobile computing group at the Auckland campus. The group is exploring applications for the new generation of mobile phones, including data access.

She says that in the very near future people will access their online communities direct from their mobile phones once it becomes less expensive to do.

Nicked directly from Massey Uni News. And here’s my blog post from 2005 on Children with Diabetes online social network. Checking back today, I notice they have 40,000 posts on one forum (Parents with Children with Type 1). Pharmaceutical companies in particular are funding these kids of ventures – Lilley for example. Which is fine as long as a) they disclose it and b) they don’t push their drugs. Sponsorship is different from underwriting! I’ve started a page on my wiki called Sponsored and Underwritten Communities – to open up furtive and acknowledge honest help to social networks by corporates. Please let me know of any social networks that are covertly or overtly supported by a company.

Once corporates in general realise that they can’t yell at consumers anymore (eyeballs are elsewhere, voice engaged, iPod in ears) there will be a mass move into trying to take over social networks. Which is why I work so hard to educate about underwriting, not sponsorship

Maaaan, I wish Australia would catch on. I’ve been pushing barrows of **** uphill trying to get underwriting for some of my communities. At least it’s making me polish my spiel but seriously, maybe I should just pop over to San Jose and pick up a few investors there? How far is it to Disneyland from Mountain View? For worthy causes only, of course. 🙂

Or maybe Boston. I was talking to a journo the other day and said that investment of this nature was coming out of California, London and to a lesser extent, Boston. Was I right? Melissa is there, we could have a coffee and plot revolutions. 🙂

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

2 thoughts on “New Zealand: Underwriting Communities

  1. Well if you want to ‘voipify’ your social networks all you needed to do was ask nicely and go to the hidden page off our website www.mexuar.com/Demo/Demo5 to show you how.


  2. Hmm when I lay down social texture in online networks I rarely recommend VOIP. I know its massively popular in games (Ventrilo and Teamspeak spring to mind) and Second Life is integrating it now update last Thursday. It just doesn’t really rock my world.

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