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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.

When we look at the consumer-facing social media channels we focus on what people are interested in as enthusiasts of science and technology. We have more than a million followers on Facebook, and they love to hear about innovation. We don't talk about how we built a great gas turbine that delivers return on investment. That isn't going to engage people on that platform. But we might discuss a new type of material we're thinking about or crowd-source ideas which do keep people engaged. The goal is to share some of the delight we have in being inventors with the enthusiast crowd out there. 

How do you measure success?

With Facebook, we're obviously not there to close a sale. We look at audience reach, how many followers we have, what are our impressions, how many shares did we get. For us, shares are very important because it shows engagement, and how it helps us with our overall brand extension. So the performance indicators are much more upper-funnel metrics that relate to awareness that promotes our innovative culture. 

On the other end of the spectrum, LinkedIn is where we share information with business decision makers. We start to look more at things like; did they download a white paper? Did it drive users to our business websites? What we're actually now trying to get into is lead generation. So when we push out thought leadership ideas and comments, can we drive members to deeper engagement, such as signing up for a newsletter. It's all about how you put out calls to action that are meaningful to your customer on the platform that drive a deeper level of interest.

Do you use YouTube at all?

We use YouTube in a fairly broad way. We'll post things like our brand advertisements, some of our more consumer-facing enthusiast types of campaigns. And that's where you can get that viral effect, like a video that shows how a jet-skiing doctor in Japan is using our portable ultrasound equipment to provide care in remote islands. But we also put video content up that is very specific and business related. It might be our chief economist talking about his views and outlook on the economy and what's happening within our industries. YouTube is the second largest search engine, so you have to make sure you have content where your audiences are.

Does the central marketing group own any of these?

The way we look at it there isn't any one person or business that can own these channels. Social media is too much a part of the customer journey to limit it to a single group. Each of us has different roles to play. In Corporate we have a group that owns our handles to drive brand and reputation. You'll see many different handles that are out there when you look at Facebook and Twitter. All of our different businesses have their own social media channels, and they manage those directly because they have much more specific audiences and strategies. So from a social perspective there is no single owner. 


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