GE and enterprise software company SAP are also humanizing their companies on social media channels. For GE, the strategy has centered on building brand equity around innovative technology, but in a way that doesn't allow the massive machines and complex systems that GE manufactures to overwhelm the message. Said Paul Marcum, director of global digital marketing and programming at the company, "Social media is a great way to get that story out there and make it as human as possible. We have 300,000 employees and 45,000 engineers worldwide; this is about lifting brand equity on a global basis, beyond people who may be interested in buying a jet engine this week."
The company has dedicated what are essentially rounding-error budgets to Vine, Gifs, and BuzzFeed campaigns, among other efforts. Marcum said GE is obliged to do that because "if we weren't innovating on digital media, we would be the only people in the company who weren't innovating. For us, it's an opportunity to share the unexpected."
He said such executions as its Vines around food coloring and dish soap have garnered 23,000 views (and a lot of copycats,) "which is sometimes two times what we get on cable show sponsorships."
Michael Brenner, VP marketing at SAP, said Twitter is a big part of the company's social environment toward unifying and humanizing the brand. "It's a great way to quickly get out a response." He added that it's a useless exercise, however, if the content doesn't match the media."With the analytics we have done, right content gets multiples of ten ROI when it's useful. It forces us to think like publishers."
So what does not work? Marcum joked that it all works for GE. But he conceded that the company's experience with trying social media experiments that don't work belies the truism that you shouldn't launch a program on social platform unless you know you can maintain a presence there. "That's hogwash. We have tried things and backed off because they just didn't work." He explained that, for example, GR tried a campaign on Foursquare under the "Ecomagination" campaign that listed ecological and forward-thinking venues. "It just didn't fit into way people were consuming content. People pay attention to friends not third parties."