Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Will Corporate Thinking Bend Social Media’s Message?

Did you know that GE was co-founded by Thomas Edison? Much like Edison in his day, they are now acting as an early adopter when it comes to the most-important challenge for marketers today: figuring out social media. But although GE has jumped into new channels and platforms, like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and BuzzFeed, don't think it's not giving deep thought to measurement.

"You can't work for GE and not think about ROI," said Linda Boff, exec director-global digital marketing and the boss of GE's ad efforts in all media.

These experiments, from the fun Pinterest boards allowing Edison to do his best Ryan Gosling impression (just check it out) to an Instagram feed full of what Ms. Boff calls "industrial bling," are typically low-cost -- but they result in a big emotional connection with GE's audience.

"We do a report every day. Our presence in social media early on has given us a consistent high net-positive sentiment," Ms. Boff said. "It's quite a treat. We see very low, if any, negative sentiment." She added that being in early makes it more likely GE will achieve high follower counts.

Besides excelling in social, GE is among the brands leading the charge on content marketing. Its Txchnologist is a tech Tumblr that's an interesting read in its own right, while GE Reports is a corporate newsroom that won't bore you to tears. The cumulative effect of these and the company's many other content hubs is that GE ends up feeling less like a 300,000-employee multinational conglomerate and more like a friend that just happens to be really, really smart. Which is kind of the guiding principle for all these experiments, according to Ms. Boff.

"What works for us," she said, "are programs where GE can behave the way a real person would behave, be as accessible as possible, and lean into the fact that we are a brand in motion."

You might ask who Is GE trying to reach.  Most companies feel social media reaches out to a very consumer based audience. Business to business and businesses trying to reach a small unique buyer group don’t use social media.  Will this effort by GE prove that you can create buzz that is effective in reaching or educating a demographic that is normally done by direct marketing means.

Will this effort in talking about GE in all of its glory affect what a consumer does when buying their next washer, dryer or refrigerator?  Is that GE’s overall goal.  Does talking about high tech in one area influence the buying public in others areas of that brand?  Will the education in the technology of the best in world class jet engines mean that is the brand you want in household appliances? Only time will tell.

Or will the telling fact be that other corporations adopt the same strategy for their products? Does this have a trickle down affect to how you will market your product or service?

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