Social Media Marketing Tips and Insights from a Big Boring Brand

Social Media Marketing Tips and Insights from a Big Boring Brand

Many times the question is raised …”My product is boring, so how can I use social media to drive sales and create brand awareness?”

Traditional businesses still often think that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and  Instagram are for the teenagers, the under 30’s or the mommy bloggers.

Social media marketing is mostly seen as a the province of businesses that deal with consumers. The new reality is that “social media marketing is not about the channel but what goes into the channel – content!

Boring brands need to change their thinking

Business to business brands often have great content, it’s just that many aren’t accustomed to publishing it to social networks. It requires a new way of thinking about social and it revolves around publishing content that engages.

There are many traditional brands that have what seems to be boring topics of conversation but are managing to be creative and innovative. These include IBM, Microsoft and General Electric.

Today we will have a closer look at a traditional business that understands innovation both with its business and how it uses social media. We will look at some social media marketing tips and insights into how GE  uses its “GE Reports” publishing portal and amplifies and leverages it with social networks.

1. General Electric

General Electric or “GE” is a big business that doesn’t sell sexy fashion or cool gadgets. It designs and creates big machines and lots of other stuff. Despite it being perceived from a distance as a big boring brand it is constantly innovating and experimenting with social media and new channels. This even includes Instagram, Pinterest and Viddy.

According to GE’s Linda Boff (The executive director of global digital marketing)  in an interview on Digiday,  social media is used by GE to have conversations with people.

These include

  • Consumers
  • Employees
  • Investors

It uses social media to tell stories about the impact of its technology and innovation on people.

GE’s main goal is engagement

GE’s social media metrics is focused on measuring engagement because that is the main goal of their social media activities. This includes capturing data and metrics on Facebook that looks at unique engagement rate. This provides insights into the size and health of their online community. They are also exploring the use of social CRM platforms to personalize the engagement.

The key tactic for driving engagement on social media

According to Linda Boff the key tactic to creating the most engagement with content is as follows.

“With respect to content, across nearly all platforms we’ve found that creative, visual content paired with strong calls-to-action drives the highest engagement”.

That is why you will see GE on the visual social media channels such as Viddy, Pinterest and Instagram which could maybe been seen as the wrong demographic for their audience.

How GE handles risk on social media

GE is in a lot of highly regulated businesses which includes, financial services, healthcare and energy. Brands often use the excuse of not participating on social media in highly regulated industries because it is seen as too big a legal risk to be publishing on social media. They fear that they will lose control of their messaging.

So how does GE solve this?

In a recent real time social media marketing campaign reported on Digiday, they assemble a team  that includes:

  • Strategist
  • Producer
  • Designer
  • Lawyer

This allows them to make fast decisions on both the content and the distribution. So if you are participating on social channels don’t let government or corporate regulation get in the way of participation.

The GE Social Publishing Portal

Their main portal for creating brand awareness is “GE Reports“. This is not about selling a product but selling the idea of innovation. This is much more engaging and allows them to tap into the emotion of storytelling.

What is the GE Report’s mission and goal?

The  mission: “To provide a simple no frills way of  way of communicating what is happening at GE”

The goal: “To be a resource for people who are interested in learning more about GE”

This publishing portal covers the main categories of the GE business spectrum.  It is about providing highly visual storytelling that includes:

  • Videos
  • Graphics
  • Photos

So even the GE Reports is focused on visual storytelling and visual engagement. Its not a website with long lengthy articles with walls of text. It’s about cool infographics, compelling YouTube videos and engaging images.

GE Reports

If you have a closer look inside the GE Report you will start to notice content that is far from boring.

The fastest ferry in the world

When creating content around your brand you should be looking for angles that will take your brand from dull to fascinating. You could write an article about a jet engine (A GE product) but what is much more interesting is a story about the world’s fastest ferry driven by jet engines from a 747. You need to look at publishing on social networks with a journalists and publishers eye and ear.

The facts that will capture your attention (and maybe provide and incentive to share the story) is that is can reach speeds of 67 miles per hour, carry 1,000 passengers and 150 cars.

The fastest ferry in the world

So how can you move your content from mundane to motivating?

The GE Social Networks

GE doesn’t shy away from participating on mainstream social networks that are often seen as the domain of business to consumer brands. Here are some of the ways and the social channels that they participate on.

Facebook

General Electric is about innovation and 3D printing is one of the latest trends in technology innovation. This is the latest featured content on their Facebook page. You will notice that is isn’t  about their product but explaining and educating people about how the 3D printing process works. It is about having conversations around the brand not about its products to drive engagement.

GE Facebook

Pinterest

But they are on Pinterest..that’s suppose to be where the mommy bloggers hang out! What GE has understood is that the visual nature of Pinterest drives high engagement. So they are constantly innovating and participating on new channels to find what works and doesn’t.

GE Badass machines Pinterest

Instagram

GE is also on Instagram. They often run competitions on Instagram and make the GE brand fun and personal.

GE Instagram

Twitter

GE is even on Twitter  and know how to have a bit of fun. Here is their take on Thanksgiving with a scientific twist. They maybe haven’t found Twitter to be as successful as the other networks and that is maybe because it is not as visual as Instagram or Pinterest. Maybe Twitters new image stream will change that. GE Twitter

What about you?

Do you see your business as too boring to participate on social media? Maybe its time to look at selling an idea rather than a product.

What idea could you try to sell?

 

 

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Comments

  • http://www.colewiebe.com/blog Cole Wiebe

    Hi Jeff,

    I always shake my head when companies call us in for a consultation and explain how none of the current online marketing strategies will work for a company like theirs. I love to spin that back and ask, “So what are you saying; your company is so damn boring, there’s absolutely nothing that can be said about it, or its products and services?” Contrary to what most executives believe, renewed passion for the brand, and what it brings to the marketplace, can also be brought in from outside.

    GE is a brilliant example of a company that has put passionate, creative people behind their online marketing.

    – Cole

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      The challenge for many of them is that it is a different way of thinking that needs a culture change. It is an education process.