Boff details GE's embrace of social media

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Chicago—Linda Boff, executive director-global digital marketing at General Electric Co.—and BtoB's Top Digital Marketer last year—revealed details of how GE has embraced social media during a presentation Thursday to the Chicago chapter of the Business Marketing Association. “We used the mantra "business is social' increasingly at GE,” Boff said, but she cautioned that ambitious social media marketing initiatives are not reserved for corporate giants. “Social is accessible no matter how big your company is.” She also emphasized that social media isn't just for consumer brands, pointing out that 90% of b-to-b decision-makers say they consult social media in the buying process. In her presentation, Boff outlined several social programs GE has undertaken in the past two years to connect with these decision-makers. She said GE takes a “stock and flow” approach to marketing via social. She defined “stock” as more traditional content-marketing fodder, such as white papers and videos that had longer shelf lives. “Flow,” she said, was content that was “lighter, more perishable.” “It's the combination [of stock and flow] that's engaging people,” Boff said. As examples of flow, she said GE used simple games, like placing two photos of a GE locomotive side by side and challenging visitors to find five differences in the shots. “It helps our brand be more human, more approachable, more accessible,” Boff said. Boff said the rise of social media has altered the way content marketing works on the Web. “It's a Web rebuilt around people,” she said. Today, much content is found being shared via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. “Content without context is actually not a good use of money,” Boff said. She recommended finding “the right people who care about your brand.” She said GE is exploring creating more groups on LinkedIn in an effort to get pinpointed messages to targeted audiences. “I don't think we've scratched the surface there,” she said She added the GE has been exploring the possibilities offered by Pinterest, which has been dismissed by many as having no potential for b-to-b marketers. The experiments, which include posting inspirational quotes from GE founder Thomas Edison, have paid off with significant Web traffic. “We're experimenting,” Boff said. “We have fun, and we're learning.”
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