Over the years, the 132-year-old conglomerate General Electric (GE) has reinvented itself and its brand by adopting a new approach to content marketing. Viewing the new approach largely as storytelling, they put a lot of effort on telling stories – bringing to life the company and its products, and giving a new spirit to the GE brand. And, it has been a success!
Their new communication efforts enabled them to go from being viewed as an “uncool corporate giant” to an innovative brand who lives and breathes science and technology. Their content is compelling, relatable, and thought provoking, which has spurred engagement with their audience.
So what are they doing to be so successful? Here are some highlights from GE’s content.
Data visualizations. Around five years ago, GE started to use data visualizations as a way of making the complex matters they deal with easier to understand and more compelling. GE uses this for all sorts of data presentations, even in places as diverse as annual reports.
Image courtesy of http://visualization.geblogs.com/visualization/visualizing2011/
Games. GE is using games for communication purposes: “We’re always looking for new formats and methods of storytelling and we try to reach a breadth of audience that includes both business decision makers and younger people. We felt that a game like this, which is a kind of treasure hunt game, was a good way to get across a higher volume of content and really get people to spend some time discovering with us.” explains Katrina Craigwell, Digital Marketing Manager at GE.
GE users can download the GE Wonderground mobile application on their devices for free. The web version lets gamers go on 360 fact-finding missions.
Relatable content. One of GE’s strengths is delivering content that explains their products and business in a relatable, easy to understand way. They are also not afraid to implement some elements of fun.
Social Media. Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Digital Marketing at GE, explains their social media strategy.
“We have a clear compass as to what it is we find interesting and what our voice is in our space. We have a curious, passionate and optimistic voice. Using this compass, we make sure we have consistency on our content channels. Having said that, our content is geared toward the platform. What works on one does not work on another, but the voice permeates through them all. Being innovative is part of our DNA, so if we were not on all the social platforms, then shame on us. We have figured out what works for us. That means we have used social to connect with people in an accessible and human way. We have been successful in embracing what is interesting about GE and do it in a way where we link our passion points with audiences that love science, technology and innovation. We feel good about where we are.”
Strategic content and audiences. Gary Sheffer, VP Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, believes that it is essential to have content that makes a difference (going beyond a piece that is strategic and describes the culture of the company). He shares that GE used to focus on the numbers and the revenues, until they realized that the best approach to get better results and grow is to focus on 4 strategic audiences: Employees, Customers, Thought Leaders and Business decision makers.
Just a few years ago GE was still seen as a “big business dinosaur” out of touch with the fast-moving shifts in technology and online trends. Among the key values they seek to demonstrate in their content marketing is the mix of traditional and advanced manufacturing at its heart, alongside a focus on technology, innovation and invention.
GE’s reinvention proves that it is possible for any company to pull off powerful content marketing, no matter the company’s size or products.