GE's early experimentation with mobile social platforms pays off
September 13, 2013
One of GE's Instagram posts
NEW YORK – A General Electric executive at the Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2013 said that companies should bet on new mobile social platforms such as Instagram and Vine to build a relationship with consumers and tell the company’s story.
In the session “Mobile as the heart of consumer engagement,” the executive discussed General Electric’s early experiments with social mobile platforms and how they have benefited the company. After launching a Vine channel on the second day of the platform’s existence, General Electric now has 83,481 followers.
“I can’t tell you if Vine is going to be around in a year or in three years or five years,” said Linda Boff, executive director of global brand marketing at General Electric, Fairfield, CT.
“Right now Vine is important because it’s trending in a way that’s very high,” she said. “It’s relevant, and I think you can’t miss that moment. Some of the stuff we do with Instagram and Vine, they’re experiments, they don’t cost a lot of money.
“What we’ve tried to do is if we’re going to do something on mobile in digital social, we try to be there early. There’s a premium to being early, there’s a premium in terms of attention and the number of followers you get."
The Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2013 conference was a Mobile Marketer event.
Open the doors
Ms. Boff explained that General Electric views the world of mobile-social as a way to tell the company’s story in a new way and provide consumers with new views on the company.
One of the ways that General Electric does that is through Instagram.
The company created a channel in April 2011 and now has 141,000 followers.
“What we love about Instagram is it gives us the ability to talk about what I think most people don’t think about us,” Ms. Boff said. “We have tried to capture GE at both its most beautiful from a scale point-of-view, its most human, our most epic, to just kind of up close and beautiful.
"We’re very conscious that people can’t come and visit us, you can’t just throw open the doors to the factory," she said. "So what we’ve tried to do with Instagram is open the doors and invite people in a way that we hope is inspiring.”
General Electric has also leveraged social-mobile platform Vine to engage consumers in a creative way.
The company’s first Vine was a simple video that showed a science experiment with a saucer of milk, food coloring and a Q-tip. This video garnered 196,000 likes and 162,000 revines.
Then General Electric began running Vine campaigns asking users to submit Vines.
For example, the company ran a six second science fair and asked users to submit science vines. More than 600 users created videos, and General Electric earned 50,000 more followers.
The company compiled all of the vines in one video, which yielded more than 700,000 views as well as 40 articles written about the campaign.
Beyond the social sphere, General Electric is also creative in other mobile realms.
For example, the company partnered with mobile application Dots to create a Gravity Mode that gave users unlimited time to collect dots with a gravity shuffler.
A screenshot of the Gravity Mode
General Electric has also created more than 100 different mobile apps that range from sales effectiveness apps such as Genius to apps that help consumers in the field with things like remote monitoring and diagnostics.
The company has also created consumer-facing apps, including a mobile game that lets users take a patient through the various stages of a hospital visit while trying to keep the patient alive.
“Innovation is in our DNA, so that allows to connect and say if part of our brand promise is that we’re a tech company and we’re about being first to market, it has to apply here,” Ms. Boff said.
“You want to do something that when somebody experiences it there’s a plus not a minus,” she said. “It’s hard as brands. Everybody wants to do the right thing. We all want our app to be something that people enjoy. We really obsess on what would add to the experience.”
Linda Boff is executive director of global brand marketing at General Electric, Fairfield, CT
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