World Diabetes Day 2014 on Twitter… sifting through the data

At Symplur we track hashtags, keywords, user accounts, and pretty much anything else on Twitter that has to do with healthcare. We collect the data and then build countless ways to slice it up so that we’re able to better understand the people involved and the conversations taking place. So when a day like “World Diabetes Day” rolls around, it’s an opportunity to dive in and explore.

For the purpose of this post, I’ll keep it focused on just a few basic questions.

What was the hashtag for World Diabetes Day?
The answer to that question depends on who you’re asking. The International Diabetes Federation, organizer of World Diabetes Day, uses #WDD as the official campaign hashtag. But hashtags often form organically, and we’ve seen several others in use for this event as well. The most prevalent in terms of use in 2014 were…

Hashtag Number of Tweets Number of Users Total Impressions
#WDD 13,673 7,718 49,325,355
#WorldDiabetesDay 13,424 9,437 67,475,124
#WDD2014 1,996 1,117 9,070,080

So even though #WDD was the “official” hashtag for this event, it wasn’t the most widely adopted in terms of users, nor was it the one that made the most impressions. Something can be learned here.

What’s more, at Symplur we currently track 113 hashtags that are related to the topic of “diabetes”, and when we look at which of these was used most on World Diabetes Day, we find that the more generic hashtag of #Diabetes led all on that day…

Hashtag Number of Tweets Number of Users Total Impressions
#Diabetes 25,949 15,573 172,092,687

Topic of "diabetes": volume of tweets per hour, Nov. 14, 2014

What was said on World Diabetes Day?
This time the answer to the question is, “That depends on where you were.” Word Bubble graphs are great for getting a quick sense of what was talked about because they show the most frequently used words in a given set of tweets. And when we look at such a graph on World Diabetes Day of the top 50 words used across all 113 diabetes hashtags, we see that when the 24 hour period is based on the Eastern Time Zone we have just a handful of Spanish words ranking prominently. However, when we shift that 24 hour period to the Pacific Time Zone, we notice a huge surge in the amount of Spanish language tweets.

Word Times Used (Eastern Time) Position in Top 50 (Eastern Time) Times Used (Pacific Time) Position in Top 50 (Pacific Time)
día  (day) 3,115 6 4,584 5
Mundial  (World) 3,031 7 3,858 7
hoy  (today) 2,133 10 4,015 6
prevenir (prevent) 929 28
boletín (newsletter) 891 30
tipo (type) 858 34

diabetes topic - 111414 - pac time - word bubble

This surge in Spanish language tweets was coming mainly from Spain, Mexico and throughout South America. The Hispanic population in the U.S., though substantial in certain areas, was largely absent. Also, as pointed out earlier, of those tweeting about diabetes on World Diabetes Day, the hashtag #Diabetes was used nearly twice as often as #WDD. However, and this is important, among Spanish language tweets #Diabetes was used almost seven times (!) as often as #WDD.

diabetes topic spanish language - 111414 - pac time - heat map

What’s more, the transcript uncovers a hashtag that we at Symplur hadn’t been tracking… #diamundialdeladiabetes (dia mundial de la diabetes = world diabetes day). This hashtag shows up 1,298 times in tweets whose hashtags we were tracking, and was a parallel campaign specifically targeting Hispanics.

This is a good example of why knowing where your target market’s network is on the social web is important if you wish to disseminate your message to them. And, depending on where your interests lie, why it’s important to recognize that global behavior on the web isn’t consistent for each time zone, and exploration of that fact is essential.

Me, I’m left wishing that someone had submitted #diamundialdeladiabetes to The Healthcare Hashtag Project in advance.

How many different hashtags were used in diabetes related tweets on World Diabetes Day?
This answer is simple, if not surprising. 960!

They included all sorts of things such as locations (#phoenix, #africa), lifestyle (#healthyliving, breakfast), and sub-campaigns/chats (#bluecircle, #WDDchat14). As a matter of fact there were no less than 20 hashtags used that included some variation of “blue”.

Closing thoughts
I’m passionate about this stuff, and would have loved to talk about the most popular links shared such as the best glucose meter, sentiment analysis, influencers… the list goes on.

Campaigns like World Diabetes Day have been evolving, but the social web has been evolving even faster. Understanding these virtual networks, what they talk about, and how they’re connected has become increasingly important. The nice thing is that with platforms like Twitter it’s all public communication, thereby making research and discovery entirely possible.

So, the last question is… “How are you leveraging these insights?”

ThomasLee– By Thomas Lee (@tmlfox), Partner at Symplur

Symplur believes that at this very moment the medical community is in a unique position to help mold the future of the patient/provider relationship. That provider participation in healthcare social media will, at an increasing rate, become the public’s expectation. And that for physicians and other healthcare organizations, just having a website no longer defines one’s online presence.

Symplur has positioned itself to be:

  • An enabler, via The Healthcare Hashtag Project for the many online communities and individuals who are connected through conversations centered around the thousands of health related topics actively being discussed.
  • A guide, at the epicenter of Healthcare Social Media who has no peer in its ability to dissect this enormous and ever-growing dataset, and to uncover the wealth of information it contains through their proprietary, deep data-mining techniques that have been designed specifically around the unique needs of the healthcare industry via their Symplur Signals product.
  • A strategist, to provide consultative support aimed at meeting the healthcare industry’s effective adoption and integration of this new media with highly focused, purpose driven solutions supported by their state of the art data analytics.

TuDiabetes Is Getting A Makeover!

Last summer we surveyed members of TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes online communities, and gained some GREAT insights! We learned that our members are happy with the information and support they receive on TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes, that they feel welcome, comfortable and safe.

We also heard three criticisms, loud and clear: 1. TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes are visually overwhelming sites, 2. the search function does not work well, and 3. the mobile applications for the two communities are not user-friendly.

So guess what… WE’RE FIXING THAT!!! These three weaknesses are related to the platform our communities are built on. That platform is being upgraded, but our research indicates that that upgrade will not adequately address the changes we need to make, so we’re moving. You read it right: WE’RE MOVING!

Last August we hired a consultancy to help us assess other possible platforms for our online communities, and from that process we have decided to move the two communities to a host platform called Discourse. Discourse has a wide variety of features and capabilities not currently available on our current platform, including a strong search function and good mobile integration. We’re super excited about this!!

Moving to a new platform is a really big deal. Discourse does not offer every feature available through our current platform, so some things are going to have to change, and a few features will be lost completely. We’ll be working hard to ensure that the necessary changes ultimately make the communities stronger, simpler, and easier to navigate, and we will need our members to stay open-minded about those changes.

We will begin preparing for the platform migration behind the scenes in January, for a launch of the new site in March, 2015, and we promise to keep you updated every step of the way! During this process there will be lots of decisions to make and opportunities for improvement and creativity, and feedback from our communities will be crucial to ensure we end up with the best new sites possible.

Thanks for joining us in this new adventure!! There will undoubtedly be some bumps on this road, but we at DHF are confident that our communities will come out even stronger and better at the end. Stay tuned for updates and weekly explanations of great new features the new sites will have, coming soon!

P.S. Our holiday fundraising campaign begins soon, and we’ll be inviting our members and friends to support this exciting leap forward by making a donation to Diabetes Hands Foundation. Keep your eyes peeled!…

Best Diabetes Diet for all the patients

As a diabetic, it is imperative that you to pay close attention to your diet and, in the case of Type II diabetics, watch your weight. The number one dieting objective should be to watch those sugar levels! Weight loss is also a big concern since overweight conditions will typically aggravate the diabetic condition. Both of these areas will be discussed in detail but first we will address the subject of diabetic diet. It is most important for the diabetic to learn about nutrition. Managing diabetes is a daily discipline. By following a good diet, you can make things a lot easier and you will also enjoy the other common benefits of healthy dieting.

For diabetics, natural foods including complex carbohydrates, vegetables and complex carbohydrates may be the safest philosophy. Simple carbohydrates are not the best thing for diabetics. These include things like sweets, candies, cakes, sweet drinks and jams all of which are rapidly absorbed and digested. They will cause a surge of sugar levels in the bloodstream which can cause serious problems. They should be avoided or at least taken in small quantities. Complex Carbohydrates are a much better source of energy for diabetics. These include whole wheat or wholegrain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, beans, oats and most vegetables and fruits. These will be more slowly absorbed and digested and will therefore help to keep the patients sugar levels stable. Besides carbohydrates, however there are other considerations.

The goals for a diabetic diet are basically to achieve near normal blood glucose levels and protect the heart and cholesterol levels. It is also important to manage or prevent the complications that can come about from diabetes. Diabetics are at risk for a number of medical complications, including heart and kidney disease. For this reason it is important to also limit fat intake. Avoid saturated fats and trans-fatty acids such as hard margarine and fast food. Monounsaturated fat is preferred such as virgin olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated oils are also good such as sunflower oil. Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds are also good.. When choosing foods with sugar, choose fresh fruits, but do so in moderation.
Another important principle for a diabetic to consider is the consumption of alcohol. It is important, once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, that you only drink alcohol in moderation. The best scenario would be to avoid it altogether but this is not imperative. Alcohol behaves like a simple carbohydrate. If you drink too much of it, it can quickly throw off your sugar-levels. If you can’t avoid it altogether, then drink it in moderation. Especially avoid alcohol on an empty stomach.

Fiber is an important component of many diabetic diets. It is found only in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and peas. Other sources include whole grain breads and brown rice. Dried beans, oat bran, barley, apples, citrus fruits and potatoes all have great advantages for the heart and for healthy cholesterol levels. Fiber supplements such as Metamucil and Fiberall do not appear to achieve the same benefits as natural foods. Glucomannan, however, is helpful in controlling blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Protein is another element that is important to take account of in the diabetic diet. Doctors usually recommend that proteins should provide 12% to 20% of the daily calories in a diabetic diet. Still others believe that protein should only make up about 10% of daily calories. It is a general rule that one gram of protein has about four calories in it. In favor of the lower percentage argument, is the fact that reducing proteins may be helpful in slowing the progression of kidney disease. This was made apparent during a 1999 study that showed a reduction in the need for dialysis in patients who had been in danger of kidney failure. Still, a diet that is especially low in protein can cause fatigue and confusion. The best source of protein is probably fish becasue of studies which have shown it to protect lab animals against insulin resistance. It has also been suggested that it reduces the risk of sudden death from heart-rhythm abnormalities. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, halibut and tuna are especially good.

Fats: there has been quite a lot of debate about the risks and benefits of dietary fat. Not all fats are bad. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and some plants actually help lower cholesterol. Our bodies need some types of fat to function normally. Reducing the consumption of saturated fats and replacing them with fish and plant-based fats maybe one step in managing weight and cholesterol.
To manage these fats it is important to understand both saturated fats and trans fatty acids. Saturated fats are found in animal products and dairy products. Trans-fatty acids are created through a process called hydrogenation. These fats can be found in stick margarine and in fast foods, baked goods and white breads. It should be noted that some fat is necessary for health. The Omega-3 are overwhelmingly considered the best fats around. Polyunsaturated fats however are sometimes beneficial and can be found in sunflower, corn, cottonseed oils and fish. Monounsaturated fats are also sometimes a good choice and can be found in olive, canola, peanut oils and most nuts.

Vitamins and Supplements for Diabetes: Some natural substances have shown promise in scientific studies but the data is limited. Natural supplements which show promise include turmeric, bitter melon, cinnamon and Vitamin E. A small study found that people with Type II diabetes who took supplements of Vitamin E had less inflammation in their blood vessels and therefore were less at risk for heart disease and stroke. Another study suggested that Vitamin E had aided the governing of the heart in people with Type II diabetes. Vitamin E may also help to prevent blood clots and the formation of fatty plaques on the walls of the arteries. It should be noted that Vitamin is not water soluble and build up in the body to toxic levels. People whose diets had high levels of vitamin C have sometimes been considered to be at lower risk for heart disease. There is no scientific evidence, however, that vitamin C offers any actual protection against heart disease.

Weight loss methods for a Type II diabetic should be researched and a weekly exercise program should be enacted. It is important not to make unrealistic goals when first starting out. Keeping tabs on your diet and simply adding a little daily exercise to your routine will make a great deal of difference in the beginning. Once a regular routine is established, then it will be OK to increase the amount of exercise in a daily routine. Patients should always consult a physician when considering a new exercise regimen.

Diabetes Weight Loss

Weight loss becomes a more important issue for certain diabetics but not all diabetic cases are the same. In fact, there really isn’t one diet that meets the needs of every diabetic. A Type II diabetic who is obese AND insulin-resistant will need a different carbohydrate-protein balance than a thin Type I diabetic. It is true that a simple heart-healthy diet with adequate weight control may be enough for Type II diabetics but intricate diets may be necessary for blood sugar control in Type I diabetics. This may also be the case for the more serious cases of Type II. The more complicated and intricate diets may include counting the carbohydrate grams and using a glycemic index to determine glucose levels.

The methods for controlling glucose levels are different for each person. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are the main concerns for patients receiving insulin. It is important, therefore, to monitor blood glucose levels carefully. Patients should aim for a pre-meal level of between 80 and 140 mg/dL. At bedtime, the level should be between 100 and 160. Diabetics who are rigidly controlling these levels will need to check them at least four times a day. The highest risk for hypoglycemia is at nighttime. Bedtime snacks may be helpful in this regard. It is also important to monitor blood glucose levels before driving. Hypoglycemia can be very hazardous on the roads. Diabetic patients often carry hard candy, juice or sugar packets to prevent inconveniences in this area.

In order to achieve the optimum diet, food labels can be used to to determine the number of calories from fat, the amount of nutrients that might be dangerous and the more useful nutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, protein and vitamins. Labels also indicate the “daily values,” or percentage of a good diet that each person needs. Diabetics are encouraged to weigh out the number of grams in each serving of food before and after cooking the meals. Once a clear idea of the correct amount of each food has been determined, the diabetic will be familiar with each serving and may be able to dispense with the method of weighing out their foods.

It is clear to see that there are numerous considerations for the diabetic patient to take into account when considering diet and weight loss. It is imperative that the diabetic learn everything there is to know about all areas of dieting and not depend on others to tell them what is right and wrong for them to eat. Both dieting and losing weight require a thorough understanding of one’s own personal body and metabolism. The more the diabetic knows, the better he or she will be in maintaining a good level of health. In addition to good nutrition, you may also want to consider traditional herbs for weight loss such as green tea. You can read more on weight loss supplements.…

DHF receives $200,000 grant from Novo Nordisk

Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) has received a grant of US$200,000 from Novo Nordisk to support programs aimed at bringing together people touched by diabetes for positive change so that nobody living with this disease ever feels alone. “We are truly grateful for Novo Nordisk’s deep commitment of resources and the positive impact this grant will have on every one of our programs in 2015,” commented Manny Hernandez, Co-founder and President of Diabetes Hands Foundation.

“The generosity of this grant reflects Novo’s commitment to change diabetes by supporting efforts aimed at improving the daily lives of people touched by diabetes.” Diabetes Hands Foundation runs two online communities for people touched by diabetes: TuDiabetes (in English) and EsTuDiabetes (in Spanish), with 66,000 registered members and nearly 3 million annual visitors from around the world. A portion of this grant will help cover some of the costs of migrating these two communities to a new software platform that will support future growth beyond 2015. The Big Blue Test is the second program run by DHF and is aimed at demonstrating the positive impact that even a little bit of exercise can have on blood sugars. Each exercise session logged triggers matching grants to organizations serving people with diabetes living in need. Over the past five years over 100,000 exercise sessions have generated nearly $300,000 in grants.

With this grant, Novo Nordisk becomes the first partner to get behind the Big Blue Test in 2015. Diabetes Advocates is the third program run by DHF, with a mission to connect advocates dedicated to improving the lives of people living with diabetes in order to accelerate and amplify their efforts. This grant will help expand the reach and impact by supporting part of the costs associated with building an online diabetes advocacy hub.

“We are delighted to partner with the Diabetes Hands Foundation on these critical programs that serve those affected by diabetes,” said Diana Blankman, Novo Nordisk’s Senior Director, US Corporate Giving & Social Impact.  “Through DHF’s social networks and advocacy efforts they are reaching, and more importantly, connecting people with programs and services to support their diabetes journey.”

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About Novo Nordisk Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within hemophilia care, growth hormone therapy, and hormone replacement therapy.

Novo Nordisk employs approximately 40,000 employees in 75 countries, and markets its products in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit or follow our news in the U.S. on Twitter: @NovoNordiskUS. About Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF) Diabetes Hands Foundation ( brings together people touched by diabetes for positive change to make sure that nobody living with this condition ever feels alone.

Diabetes can be a very isolating disease. We provide opportunities for people with diabetes and their loved ones to connect and have an open dialog about their experiences with this chronic condition. Instead of looking at the disease, DHF seeks to understand, connect, and energize the millions of people living with this condition. DHF hosts two active online communities for people touched by diabetes: (in English) and (in Spanish); the Big Blue Test, a program for empowerment through exercise; and Diabetes Advocates, a consortium of champions for people touched by diabetes.