Are you soliciting user-generated content (UGC) for your business?
Would you like to know how to get the most out of user-generated content?
Medtronic Diabetes, which develops and sells diabetes management products, has been soliciting user-generated content since 2012.
Their Share Your Story Facebook app has been so successful that it is driving a 2-to-1 return on investment (ROI) for their entire social media program.
Read on to discover best practices from Medtronic Diabetes for how to get the most out of user-generated content.
#1: Put Customers Front and Center
Medtronic Diabetes does not use professional models. Their policy is only to use customers in marketing or product photos. So when they launched their Facebook page in April 2012, they featured a customer in their banner photo.
“We had a huge ‘aha’ moment as soon as we launched,” said Amanda Sheldon, director of digital marketing and communications for Medtronic Diabetes. As soon as the page launched, people spontaneously shared their diabetes stories.
The company soon realized they wanted a Facebook app. They worked with Likeable Media to develop the Share Your Story app.
#2: Ask for Stories in the Right Places
Medtronic Diabetes has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as a blog. Each is used in a different way.
They started The Loop blog in 2011 as an owned channel to foster discussion about living with diabetes. They also post news about the company and its products.
Next they launched their Twitter and YouTube channels. They use Twitter for news and for fielding customer-service issues. “Twitter is for the in-time engagement, helping people out in that moment,” said Sheldon.
The company also uses Twitter to stay engaged with a community of diabetes influencers and bloggers.
They use YouTube mostly for product information/testimonials and customer-service tips.
But Facebook is where most of their customers are. “There are a lot more people with diabetes using Facebook than are using Twitter,” said Sheldon. So it made sense for them to solicit user stories and photos via a Facebook app.
#3: Make Your Timeline Your Customers’ Timeline
Facebook came out with the timeline concept just as Medtronic Diabetes was getting their page up. Sheldon thought it would be a great idea to have their customers’ milestones be part of their timeline.
“We had added major milestones in the company to the timeline, but we thought our customers were just as important as our innovations,” she said. “The idea of co-creating the timeline along with our community was amazing.”
The app prompts users for a “Diabetes Life Event Date,” and uses that date to place the story in the Medtronic timeline. The community manager also shares the stories as posts on the Facebook page.
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#4: Follow Up With Videos, Photo Shoots and Guest Blogging Offers
Medtronic Diabetes gives users of the Share Your Story app an opt-in form with three levels of permission for using their stories.
Since people are sharing health care information, Medtronic wanted to be very specific in getting permission for how it is used.
Approximately 80% of customers sharing via the Share Your Story app have opted to let their photos and stories be used outside of Facebook.
But Medtronic is also proactive about contacting customers who have shared to do photo shoots, video testimonials and guest blogging.
Steve, a Facebook community member, posted a photo from his 2012 wedding using the app. Medtronic then followed up asking if he’d like to guest post on The Loop. The result was Getting Hitched With Diabetes: The Groom’s Perspective, which they reposted on the Facebook page.
#5: Keep Sharing Top-of-Mind With Customers
Medtronic periodically prompts its Facebook community with reasons to post their stories. Holidays, back-to-school season, wedding season, etc., are all opportunities. And sometimes no reason at all is required, as a post from February 2014 shows.
#6: Prompt Users to Be Specific
The original Share Your Story app had the tagline, “Write. Share. Inspire.” It prompted users to share “moments in your life of living well with your insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor.”
Sheldon found that while some people wrote a lot, many people would contribute only one or two lines. They wanted to refine the wording in the app to prompt users to give more detail and bring their story to life.
In March 2014, Medtronic worked with Likeable to reskin the app and update the wording.
Now the app has the tagline, “The Wonders of Life.” It prompts users to “Share with us your personal story about the pivotal moment you switched to the pump and CGM, and how insulin therapy has helped you focus on the wonders of life.”
Examples of photos and excerpts from stories that have already been shared give users an idea of what they can write.
Sheldon is not surprised by people’s willingness to participate. “We know our customers and know that they like to support each other,” she said. “Our hope that social media would bring this all together was definitely met.”
Her favorite stories are ones that result in community members learning from and supporting each other. Medtronic posted about a woman who shared about her two successful pregnancies using an insulin pump. A commenter noted that she was worried about having children while using a pump. The woman who had shared her photo responded to reassure her that it was definitely possible.
“It’s not us popping up in the conversation,” said Sheldon, “but the user. It’s that type of information that is valuable to get out there.”
What do you think? Are you soliciting user-generated content? How can you encourage your customers to share photos and stories? Include your comments and questions below.