For this member profile, we sat down with Amanda Sheldon, Director of Digital Marketing and Communications for Medtronic Diabetes. She’s been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2012.
For Amanda Sheldon, working for Medtronic combined her love of tech and science with her passion for helping people.
“I felt like healthcare was a meaningful career path. And from a communications perspective, I could help build awareness for people about therapy options and help them improve their lives,” she says.
As Medtronic Diabetes’ Director of Digital Marketing and Communications, Amanda helps run a very active diabetes community across multiple social channels.
There’s something you should know about the diabetes community: They love to talk.
“I think the diabetes online community is one of the most active communities out there,” says Amanda.
In fact, they’ve given themselves a name, The DOC (Diabetes Online Community). And their engagement levels with Medtronic Diabetes would make most social media managers jealous.
But just because they’re talking doesn’t mean Amanda’s job is any easier.
“It makes it so much more important to be a part of the community,” she says. “Our social strategy at Medtronic Diabetes is not just to be there to help create the community, but also to be a part of the community. You have to understand the rules of engagement and understand the community to do that.”
Amanda says her team prides themselves on knowing many of their fans and followers on an individual basis. She says to be a part of the DOC, you have to really know their stories, their daily struggles, and their inside jokes.
“Diabetes never takes a break.”
Amanda explains that diabetes is 24 hours a day, so their social customer support is too. They have an in-house full-time community manager, a team of specially trained customer service agents, and external support from an agency to create content.
But all of this online community building is fairly new for the healthcare industry.
“We knew a lot of our customers were out there talking to one another, and we knew our customers enjoyed engaging with us. Some would even send us letters. But not a lot of companies were doing social media. And if they were doing social, they turned off the comments,” she explains.
Amanda helped bring the first direct-to-consumer social program to medical device marketing.
When she first brought the idea of social media engagement to Medtronic, Amanda used blogger engagement to show executives the value of starting a community and moved forward by stepping lightly.
“We began social listening like everyone else. Then we started with a blog, then turned on the comments, then created a process for managing the comments. Then we moved to Twitter and YouTube and finally to Facebook. Most recently we added a Google+ account and an initiative on Spotify to get community members to share inspirational songs.”
As for regulatory concerns, Amanda says, “The rules don’t change just because you’re on social media.”
“The guidelines from the FDA in terms of how you can promote products and what kind of marketing claims you can make are the same. Now, the FDA has come out with social media guidelines, but even before then, the guidelines were very clear. It was just about how you can apply that in a different medium,” she explains.
Most importantly, Amanda says social media has a lot of potential to change lives.
“Since diabetes is a self-managed disease, there’s a great opportunity to provide resources for people to connect. It’s not about broadcasting the latest thing or your special offer; although, it’s an important part of what you can do with social media. But when you get down to it, it is that customer experience and what you can build and continue to evolve that matters.”
Find Amanda on Twitter and ask about her panel at SXSW on protecting data privacy.