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The Nanny Nine: CaringBridge

Chances are high that you have used CaringBridge, either as a way to keep current with a relative or friend’s medical condition, or had your own page at one time.  My first use was when a neighbor’s very young son was diagnosed with cancer.  I was amazed at the technology – a great way to keep everyone up to date without the need for all of the phone calls or emails back and forth.  The outcome was twofold: the young boy became cancer free, and I became an instant fan of CaringBridge!

Sona Mehring is the Founder and CEO of CaringBridge, a Minnesota based organization.  CaringBridge provides free websites that connect people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends, making each health journey easier.  Sona created CaringBridge in 1997, as a website, to keep family and friends informed about the critical situation of a close friend who suffered a life-threatening pregnancy. CaringBridge is named after Brighid, the baby who lost her battle after a nine–day struggle against tremendous odds.  Through tragedy came the positive realization of the communication and support the new website had offered, to both the family and those reading.  In 14 years it has gone from one family to a user base of millions!

1. How long have you been using Social Networking for your business?

CaringBridge was the pioneer of Social Networking. The first CaringBridge site was created in 1997 – years before the word ‘social networking’ was even used – even a year before Google was founded. CaringBridge, as a social network, focuses on connecting patients and caregivers to their friends and family during a health event.

As social networking has exploded in the past 3-5 years, CaringBridge continues to stay true to its mission to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier.  CaringBridge offers an unique ‘sharing’ space for connecting to friends and family without the invasion of advertising or the fear and annoyance of their data being sold/shared with other parties.

2. Is your business using Facebook &/or Twitter?

Yes – the CaringBridge organization has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Each CaringBridge site also has the capability to interact with other social networks –by posting notifications to their wall or sending a tweet that updates friends and family of their CaringBridge site and activity.

3. Facebook vs Twitter – do you like one better? If yes, why?

They each are fairly different environments.  We use them to talk with different groups of people.

On Facebook, our authors and visitors can connect with each other and share their very personal experiences. Our fans leave incredibly touching and inspiring messages.

Twitter is a place to connect with other industry leaders, with our healthcare and nonprofit partners, and keep up to date on trends and the latest news.

4. Do you post daily?

The CaringBridge organization posts on Facebook 2 – 3 times a week, but we have a very active fan base who are posting messages daily, and we always take the time to read and respond to our fans.

On Twitter, our frequency varies, but again, we’re reading and responding to our users and partners every day.

Our families that use CaringBridge do post notifications on both Facebook and Twitter – resulting in a high volume of posts to Facebook and Twitter.

5. What is your favorite thing about Social Networking?

The underlying human interaction of social networking is not new —  People connect with each other, share their experiences, engage with each other.

What the 21st century has added to social networking is the technology to be able to make those connections almost anywhere, anytime, with almost anybody.

My favorite thing about social networking is the underlying ‘goodness’ of having people connected to each other.

6. What do you think is the biggest benefit of Social Networking?

The more people are connected, the more understanding and knowledge is shared.  For someone going through a tough emotional/mental/physical time,  having your loved ones there to support you is vital.   Social networking can bring that to people like never before.

7. How do you measure Social Networking, and explain.

ROI – Return on Investment
ROR – Return on Relationship
ROE – Return on Engagement
ROL – Return on Loyalty
ROK – Return on Knowledge

Technology provides a pretty amazing way to connect and share. Personal relationships are foundational to the mission of CaringBridge to amplify love, hope and compassion in the world. We use Facebook and Twitter to reach more families. Return on knowledge to me means spreading awareness about our service and our mission, so no one ever has to say, “We wish we would’ve known CaringBridge existed when we needed it.”

CaringBridge sites show that social networking provides an ROI on Love!

8. What is the best moment you’ve had on a Social Networking site?

All my best moments have been on CaringBridge sites – being able to harness the love, hope and compassion from one’s circle of friends and family – to make someone’s health journey be more positive and help them get better!

9. What is your best piece of advice to other businesses about Social Networking?

Social networking, for an organization or business, provides a great opportunity to have an interactive relationship with people – not just a ‘push’ relationship.  The immediacy, phenomenal reach and ease in which to actually engage with people has never been better.

That engagement, however, must be authentic and consistent.



Facebook: CaringBridge

Twitter: @CaringBridge

The Nanny Nine brought to you by the Social Networking Nanny

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