My Mantra

Inspiring better marketing to help
your world changing ideas succeed.

Social Media Marketing Archive

7 Reasons GE Is The Most Strategic Brand In Social Media

Marketers love to celebrate forgettable things.

Every week I read magazines covering the most popular marketing campaigns of the moment. Reading about creative campaigns is fun. Yet it is easy to underappreciate the brands who take a long term view. The brands that choose to skip the quest for momentary results can be forgotten in our excitement to talk about brands taking advantage of opportune moments like Oreo’s at the Super Bowl or viral videos of people undressing each other like the sexy promo for Showtime’s Masters of Sex show.

Among the under appreciated, there is one brand that has been quietly keeping its eye on implementing a brilliant social media strategy for several years now despite being routinely passed over for recognition in favor of more visible but less strategic brands.

The smartest brand in social media today is General Electric.

Of course, their current marketing strategy goes far beyond just social media – as you can see in this brilliantly simplified TV spot talking about all the ways the company is making an impact in the world:

The ad campaign is highly visible and (according to some analysts) may even support GE’s stock price.  Yet what you may not have been watching as closely is just how many ways GE is surrounding that big advertising spend with some very real and very strategic programs in social media designed to humanize the brand and illustrate the impact they have with many different communities.

Here is a collection of some of the highest profile efforts from the brand, along with some lessons for how to create a strategic approach to using social media for your own brand that goes beyond a single campaign:

1. Solve real business challenges. (Kaggle + GEQuest)

In an ambitious effort to rethink big topics, GE partnered with a crowdsourcing community for data scientists called Kaggle to launch an open challenge for any science team to optimize the inefficiencies within two big existing systems – air traffic control and the patient experience in healthcare.  The resulting concepts were valuable, actionable and allowed GE to inspire a conversation about exactly the sorts of challenges their own teams are trying to tackle and solve every day.

2. Humanize the brand. (#instawalk + #springbreakit)

Letting people behind the scenes to see what you do and why you do it is perhaps the greatest opportunity social media offers to any brand.  Humanizing your people and work can offer great benefits from increasing positive brand reputation to becoming an employer of choice to attract the best talent.  By using “Instawalks” to invite influencers into GE facilities to share their experiences on Instagram – GE offers that rare look behind the scenes.  Their recent #springbreakit effort to show the products they help make under duress (reminiscent of the popular “Will It Blend?‘” videos) is engaging, fun and almost impossible not to watch and share.

3. Aggregate multiple efforts. (GE Social Media News)

No matter how many amazing ideas you have or campaigns you execute – the only way to realize a greater benefit is to bring all those efforts together.  One way GE does this consistently is by using a smart aggregation of the latest news from many of their efforts all in a single place on the GE main website.  By curating the best of the all the content in a single place, they allow anyone interested in learning about science, ideas or the work that GE does to have an easy point of entry to follow their own curiosity and engage with one or multiple initiatives.

4. Experiment often. (Snapchat + GE Moon Boot Sneaker)

On July 20th, it will be the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon … and the boots he wore that day were designed with GE silicon rubber. To celebrate that fact, GE turned to a new platform (Snapchat) to announce that they will be releasing a custom edition “Moon Boot” with retailer JackThreads on July 2oth.  The shoe itself is an interesting departure in product manufacturing from GE (which is hardly known for making footwear).  The concept behind the launch itself, though, is a perfect example of one of the philosophies that GE continually keeps when it comes to social media.  They choose to experiment often with new platforms and see what works.

5. Connect with real life. (3DPrintMyGift + Quirky)

Social media is a virtual thing – and the closest many brands come to bringing it into the real world is inviting people to come to a retail location with some type of promotion delivered via social channels.  Instead, GE actively finds ways to integrate the virtual world with the real world.  At the end of last year, the brand launched an initiative designed to help people design and print 3D gifts for loved ones.  For several years now, the brand has also had a partnership with Quirky, a crowdsourced platform for inventors and anyone with a new product idea.  Through this latter collaboration, GE has helped Quirky launch several products into the market for consumers … including the Aros Smart Window Air Conditioner pictured above.

6. Curate great conversation. (Ideas Laboratory + #6SecondScienceFair)

Perhaps the biggest myth in social media is that everything needs to be a conversation.  There is a time and place for conversation, and a time when simply creating great content is much more important than having a dialogue.  GE shows a mastery for separating those two things but focusing its more conversational efforts on content rich communities like the one at Ideas Laboratory.  In addition, their ongoing competition style efforts such as the #6SecondScienceFair encourage anyone to interact with the brand by sharing their own best ideas to potentially get featured and recognized by GE.

7. Publish relevant content. (GE Reports + Txchnologist)

The smartest thing about the integration strategy GE uses is how shorter term efforts like #3dprintmygift are weaved together with longstanding content production efforts such as the GE sponsored online magazine they call GE Reports.  Aside from the more heavily branded GE Reports, though, the brand also supports a third party created technology magazine called The Txchnologist.  By combining the brand voice with supporting media that features both GE content as well as other innovations from outside ensures that GE can engage people with their brand while still thinking bigger and supporting like minded efforts from others as well.

The Bottom Line

My ultimate aim in collecting all these examples together and sharing these lessons was to illustrate what an integrated social media strategy can look like when a brand considers it from every angle.  It is easy to brainstorm a great creative idea to capture eyeballs or attention for a short time.  It is far more difficult to create a long term strategy that consistently uses social media to humanize your brand.

Launching a new sneaker made of materials that once allowed a man to walk on the moon is a great story.  Integrating that with years of using social media to solve real business challenges and inspiring people in the process is a great strategy.  GE has both – and that makes them the most strategic brand on social media today.

Further Reading About GE’s Digital + Social Media Strategy:

7 Useful Lessons From The Corporate Social Media Summit

e4da3b7fbbce2345d7772b0674a318d5

After two days of conversations about social media with 25 of the world’s largest brands, perhaps the nicest benefit is that you don’t hear the same conclusions or experiences over and over. For the third year in a row, I had the chance to moderate and lead the Corporate Social Media Summit in NY – which brought together brand marketers from Whole…Read More >>

5 Marketing Lessons From The Alluring #FollowMe Project

followme1

About two years ago, aspiring photographer Murad Osmann was in Barcelona on vacation with his girlfriend Russian journalist Nataly Zakharova when she grabbed his hand to pull him forward – annoyed at how often he kept stopping to take photos. He captured that moment from his perspective, and it started a project where he spent the next two years capturing…Read More >>

Why Most Trends Don’t Matter (And 15 New 2014 Trends That Do!)

Why Most Trends Don’t Matter (And 15 New 2014 Trends That Do!)

If you believe the typical trend declarations for 2014 – this is going to be the year of big data, wearable devices, and ubiquitous tablets. These are the facts we have heard over the past two months presented as big insights for the coming year. There are only a few problems with these so called trends, and others like them:…Read More >>

4 Lessons From The Year’s Best Marketing Campaign

metrotrains-melbourne

Every year, Advertising Age magazine publishes a report that looks at the collective results from nine of the most globally respected industry award shows in the advertising industry—from the Cannes International Festival of Creativity to the Clios. The number-one award recipient this year wasn’t a tear-jerking celebrity sports ad or a preview of a hot new holiday gadget. Instead, the top honor…Read More >>

16 Ways To Make Social Media More Effective

Algebra

If I said I never used anything I learned in algebra class, I’d be lying. In my career as a marketer and communicator, I’ve never had much use for sophisticated math. But I have had plenty of use for the life lesson that algebra offered – of being forced to do something uninteresting simply because someone in authority told me…Read More >>

10 Social Media Marketing Ideas From Big Brands

There is an under appreciated difference between a story and an idea. A story is captivating and memorable. It entertains and often stays with you for longer than you thought it would. An idea, in contrast, is a spark. It happens in a moment and then it’s gone. And if you missed it or if you never acted on it…Read More >>

Finding The Cure For Social Media Jealousy: How To Limit Your “Green Time”

lifeawesomeonfacebook

There is a wonderful feature on the new Amazon Kindle to help keep children from becoming too dormant. The feature, called Kindle FreeTime, lets parents measure and limit “screen time.”  Given the amount of time many of us spend on social media, the feature does inspire an interesting thought … What if someone offered the same thing for social media?…Read More >>

How LinkedIn, YouTube & Others Could Finally Cure Stupidity Online

demotivational-blogging

The greatest collection of human stupidity ever amassed sits on the Internet … and you probably encounter it every day. When you go online today, there is some great content – and a deluge of bad, useless or otherwise idiotic content. It is common knowledge that content creation online is exploding and that much of it is not very good….Read More >>

3 Ways Dumb Phones Might Save Nokia

nokia-515

Last month Nokia quietly missed the opportunity of the decade. It wasn’t easy to spot. Amidst all the news about the mega-implications of the Microsoft-Nokia merger this week, some critics are adding up the failures of two doomed brands while others see it as proof of Android’s projected growth. Just about every article looks at the deal through the lens…Read More >>