Brian MacDonald: Five steps to successfully telling your social media story — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evan Perkins of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

11:40 —'s Kurt Vanderah introduces Hewlett-Packard's Brian MacDonald.

11:40 — Brian: Everybody loves a great story! What better place to be talking about story-telling than at Disney?!

11:41 — Brian: I'll tell you how to tell a story in five steps: Genre, Research, Write, Feedback, Publish.

11:42 — Genre: Who is your audience? Who are you targeting and talking to? If you're telling your story, who is in the audience? Bloggers, social group, key people? In fact, who's the most important person in the audience?

11:44 — Next, ask, “What are the business objectives?” This will connect you with the right person and will connect our story to the business objectives. Finally, ask, “How social savvy is this person?” This will give you clues on where you need to go with your story.

11:45 — Brian: Number two is Research: this is where you cast your wide net and find all the metrics you need. Use lots of tools to dig in and understand your data. The more you understand the better insights you can develop. You find what's important and that becomes core to your story.

11:46 — You must find insights that connect your social program to demand generation. You might use engagement, traffic, sales data, etc. Brian uses Salesforce in his particular case.

11:47 — Brian: Third, you have to Write: Start by understanding, “What's the end?” What do you want your audience to walk away with? The best way to do this is to build a story-board — do this using an infographic to share out to the audience; it's your way to tell your story. You also must remember to drill down depending on your specific audience.

11:48 — Through the process, ask for Feedback on your story. You need specific feedback to know what to improve, change, etc. Then own your story and make sure that everything in it is your own. Lastly, it's important to practice! It will help you hone your story and internalize the content so that it becomes part of you.

11:50 — Brian: Finally, you need to Publish: this is where you go and share your story. You must anticipate your audience's questions ahead of time. Also, engage your audience; they want to help you solve problems and if you draw them into your story you'll get a good grasp of you sequel! Once you tell a successful story, you'll definitely want to tell other stories.

11:52 — Brian: Again, tying your story to a business objective is key to getting your key players engaged and supportive.

11:54 — After you've told your story, ask the question, “What worked well, what didn't?” Find where higher activity drove views and engagement, etc. Figure out what you could have explained in better detail, depth, or finding the other key insights.

11:55 — To review the five steps: 1) Select your genre (audience); 2) Do your research (metrics); 3) Write your story (insights); 4) get feedback (edit); and, 5) publish your story (tour).

Q & A

Q: Any suggestions on how to position things when some metrics from your info graphic don't turn out so nicely, but you still need to present them?

A: Own the story! Figure out how that could turn into part of your story that you realize isn't ideal, but find a way to get them to understand how they can help you. Be honest upfront and ask for help that is connected with some outcome (e.g. “If you can help with this, I can do that!”)

Q: How do you earn the right to be heard by the audience?

A: Brian: Assume you've got it. You are driving some amazing things at your brands, and people are asking you questions already. Understand the business objectives and continually tie your story to those objectives. People will listen if it's important to the business.

Q: You had a slide that read, “Monetize your whites pace?” What did this mean? 

A: Brian: We sell IT products so we know what our customers have and have not purchased. Because our products are adjacent, we find those “white spaces” that our customers have not purchased into and know what we might be able to offer.

Q: When we talk about going through these steps, I could see this as five different jobs. How singular is it? Is this a one person task? If not, how to parse?

A: Brian: No, not likely. If you have enough people who are good at the specific steps, utilize them. If you are a one-person team, then you must become proficient in all steps!

Q: Our CRM does not pull in any social information. How can I account for leads or show my great conversations online if those things are not connected?

A: Brian: I am able to tie calls to action to specific places where I know they will respond. For example, a trial download of a software product or a white paper. Can you find places to tie calls to action and then tie that to a specific response? That will help you connect it with your CRM.