MarketingSherpa Video Archive

Social Media Marketing: How a digital marketer doubled the size of his team with a five-step storytelling strategy

Brian MacDonald, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

From small businesses to large corporations, it can be a challenge to gain the attention of senior leadership.

“You want to get noticed for lots of reasons. One is you’re doing great work. Another one is if you’re doing such great work, how can you get more investment?” said Brian MacDonald, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

MacDonald’s team was doing well, and he wanted to grow the size of the team through social media and community marketing, to better serve the business units they worked with.

When presenting, the team often used the commonly used presentation deck approach to showing their successes.

However, MacDonald thought there had to be a more effective way, so he turned to movies and storytelling as inspiration of how to get his team’s story in front of the right people and really capture their attention.

In the replay of his MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 presentation, MacDonald discusses five steps to effective storytelling and showing off the value of his team’s social media efforts.

Step 1. Genre

“You’re trying to figure out, who is your audience,” he said. “Are you talking to Sales? Are you talking to R&D?”

It’s important to understand that audience, he continued, to know who they are and what’s important to them.

“One way to do that is to look at their business objectives. … You want to connect your story to those business objectives,” MacDonald said.

He went on to share a scorecard he team uses that aligns priorities with business KPIs.

Step 2. Research

He first advises marketers to gather any data they can access and that helps build the story around your team and their efforts.

“The numbers are important. They’re interesting, but what am I learning from those numbers? Looking at things over time, looking at correlation between things,” MacDonald said. “From there, take those insights and begin to connect them to those business objectives.”

For MacDonald’s CMO, the key metric he cared about was pipeline, so MacDonald researched how their efforts directly impacted that objective.

Step 3. Write

“Typically, in any given situation, you want to know the end game. What do I want to get out of this thing? When I walk out of this meeting … what do I want out of it?” he said.

This focus will help you craft the story. For MacDonald, he wanted recognition for his team and further investment.

While movie screenwriters use storyboards, MacDonald turned to infographics to show his team’s story. They were visual and could allow his audience to quickly absorb the information and make a decision.

Step 4. Edit

“What I like to tell people about feedback, what I find most effective, is ask for something very specific. Don’t just say, ‘Hey, give me some feedback on this stuff.’ People won’t take time unless you give them something specific to do,” MacDonald said.

After reaching out to experts for specific advice on areas they know well, you must edit your story. But MacDonald said to only take what is important and supports your story. In the end, it’s your story and you are the one sharing it.

Step 5. Publish

MacDonald focused on three areas in this step:

Anticipate your audience’s questions. Either from previous experience presenting to them or from your research, have an idea of what additional information they might want to know and prepare for it.

Engage your audience. If your manager or other members of the team are present, you can use them to further emphasize a point in your story and demonstrate support from others.

Learn from the presentation and incorporate those insights into developing the “sequel” or next presentation.


After going through the steps, MacDonald shared how this approached played out for him with his CMO. He was able to achieve the following results:

  • 2x increase in engagement metrics due to content owners creating better content

  • 3x increase in amount of engagement with internal stakeholders

  • 100% increase in members on the team


Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 | Aria Las Vegas | April 10-13

Ecommerce Marketing Chart: Overcoming the biggest barriers to growth

Inbound Marketing: HP turns interns into brand ambassadors with Twitter contest

Ecommerce Marketing: 150% increase in sales from product storytelling and site redesign