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How GE uses social tools to support its digital strategies

John Dix | May 22, 2014
Rich Narasaki is global manager, digital marketing in the GE corporate global brand marketing group and, as such, works with and supports the digital strategy efforts of the company's eight primary business divisions. While not a member of the IT team, Narasaki works with IT and marketing constantly, so Network World Editor in Chief John Dix tracked him down to get his perspective on how digital strategy plays out in such a huge operation.

I also focus on social selling and looking at how you take social platforms and use it for commercialization. It's about how we enable sales and bottom-of-the-funnel activities.

Can you give us some examples of success stories?

One of the things we do is look at social as a way to connect our sales people with customers. Our Capital business is very forward-thinking in this area and they've developed this idea of a company social graph. GE has 300,000 employees, and oftentimes we have common customers across the different businesses. But if you're a sales person or an account manager and you want to establish a relationship with a new customer, oftentimes you don't know where to start. 

So we said, why don't we take the power of our internal network and figure out the social graph so employees can understand the existing relationships with customers and prospects. It allows us to have more meaningful conversations internally and externally. A sales rep might try to establish a relationship with a CFO or purchasing leader to better understand their needs. And we're able to do that now with social platforms like LinkedIn which provides this type of insight. It allows us to see which GE employees have the relationships. That person can call their colleague and say, "Hey, I'm with this other GE business and I'm trying to establish a relationship with one of your connections. I would love to get a better understanding about their needs and how they look at problems. What should I know going in? And oh, can you give me an intro so it's not just a cold call?"

That provides a ton of value, because it's working off of an established relationship. From a marketing standpoint, we've seen an ROI investment return of about 350x. So for every dollar we've put into training, and enabling the sales people and account managers access to this platform, we get a return of about 350 times. Those are closed deals, closed sales, pipeline leads, you name it. And we're talking nine-digit numbers.

Interesting. How about when it comes to public social tools like Facebook. How much do you leverage them?

Facebook and Twitter are just platforms where conversations happen. Social is really about engaging where your target audience and customers are having conversations. Each social platform serves a different purpose and type of content. Facebook is where you connect with your family and your friends. Twitter is where you listen or push out thought leadership. LinkedIn is where you connect with your professional networks. And within each channel people are sharing and consuming information differently. So I wouldn't go to LinkedIn to try to find out what my mom is doing this weekend. You go there to listen to colleagues and hear about business-related topics. 


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