Storytelling Interview Questions for Better User-Generated Content

Storytelling Interview Questions for Better User-Generated Content

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Journalists. Lawyers. Therapists. Oprah. They all know the power and importance of asking the right questions. In fact, they’ve built entire careers on it — and if you’re Oprah, entire empires. Of course, depending on the situation, what constitutes the “right question” will vary. Journalists should be asking questions that will help them write the most fair and accurate news stories. In a criminal case, a defense attorney wants to ask questions to help establish reasonable doubt — does the timeline laid out by the prosecution really check out?

As for Oprah … if you’re one of the 17.1 million people who tuned in to her special with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — and saw the headlines it generated afterward — you know the best questions she can ask are the ones that will get her interview subjects to spill the tea.

In a way, nonprofits that have embraced storytelling in their marketing and communications efforts must also channel their inner talk show hosts and think about the questions that can elicit the very best stories and, ultimately, the very best content. User-generated content (UGC) is one way to tell your organization’s story and highlight the important, mission-driven work you’re doing. But not every volunteer, employee, beneficiary, grant recipient, program participant and donor is a natural-born storyteller. Asking the right questions can make a real difference in getting that memorable, compelling, shareable content that plays so well on social media, in news stories and with your organization’s key stakeholders.

We can think about the process like this: great questions → great stories → great content!

The Importance of Great Content

At the most basic level, nonprofits want to gather and share content that resonates with their target audiences and inspires them to act. Content provides nonprofits and brands the means to build and reinforce those emotional connections that are so critical when persuading someone to volunteer, donate or simply learn more about your organization.

But, as nonprofit marketers know, all the content in the world doesn’t matter if it’s not shareable. Here’s where crafting the right questions comes into play. Imagine this scenario: you work for Best Nonprofit Ever, and to recognize National Volunteer Month, you’re planning a social media campaign that will highlight the incredible individuals who donate their time in support of your organization and encourage others to do the same. As part of this campaign, you’re seeking user-generated content — from volunteers themselves, from people who have benefited directly from volunteer efforts and from your colleagues whose jobs are made easier thanks to your hardworking volunteers.

To kick things off, you send an email to the appropriate distribution lists, explaining the campaign and encouraging them to submit their content via Memory Fox. Your ask is short and to-the-point: “Thank you for volunteering with Best Nonprofit Ever! Please click the Memory Fox link to share a short video explaining why you chose to volunteer.” Volunteers are then directed to the Memory Fox platform with the same prompt, or something similar: “Why did you choose to volunteer for Best Nonprofit Ever? Share a 30-second video with your story.”

Now, imagine the same scenario, but this time, volunteers are greeted with questions like:

“What has been your favorite thing about volunteering with Best Nonprofit Ever?”

“Who have you helped by volunteering with Best Nonprofit Ever?”

“What does volunteering with Best Nonprofit Ever mean to you?”

Which approach do you think will generate better, more valuable, more compelling, more shareable content? My money’s on scenario #2.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 20 interview-style questions to help guide even the most novice storytellers.

20 Nonprofit Storytelling Interview Questions

  1. How has your life been impacted by (your organization)?

  2. How has (your organization) impacted the lives of others?

  3. How did (your organization) help you overcome the challenges you were facing?

  4. How does volunteering with (your organization) make you feel?

  5. Where would you be today without (your organization)?

  6. Who at (your organization) has helped you the most?

  7. What impact has (your organization) had on our community?

  8. Tell us about the first time you volunteered with (your organization).

  9. What’s the most rewarding part about working with (your organization)?

  10. What would you say to someone who’s thinking about donating to (your organization)?

  11. What was it about (your organization) that inspired you to volunteer/donate?

  12. What’s your favorite thing about working for/with (your organization)?

  13. There are a lot of nonprofits out there — what is so special to you about (your organization)?

  14. How is (your organization) helping people in our community?

  15. Tell us about the people (your organization) serves and why it’s so important.

  16. What kind of relationships and connections have you built through (your organization)?

  17. What gap does (your organization) fill in our community?

  18. What makes volunteering with (your organization) worth it?

  19. What advice do you have for people who are interested in learning more about (your organization)?

  20. How does (your organization) make our community a better place?

While not every question on this list will work for every single campaign, they should get the wheels turning! If you’ve ever been tasked with interviewing job candidates, the concept is the same: to get the type of answers you’re looking for, you’ve got to ask the right questions. And, by taking time to craft — and incorporate — good questions from the outset of your campaign, you’ll be saving yourself time and frustration down the road.

Interested in making it easier to collect user-generated content for your social media campaigns? Schedule a quick demo with us today.