Organization Name: General Electric Company (GE) Incorporated
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Description of how social media is used for business performance
The world’s most interesting boring company
The General Electric Company (GE) Incorporated was founded in 1892 as a diversified technology and financial services company. With over 120 years behind them, GE has evolved to capture opportunities created by changes in technology. As the 4th largest conglomerate in the United States, their expansive portfolio includes aviation, building infrastructure, capital finance, energy, healthcare, business solutions, global research, and technology infrastructure.
GE is often referred to as the world’s most interesting boring company. Seriously, nothing says fun like compressor blades, wind turbines, and thermal shields! Who actually wants to read about the inside of a gas turbine casing on Facebook? Apparently everyone! The company has done an exceptional job marketing through social media with over 1.3 million likes on Facebook, 297,000 followers on Twitter, and 175,000 followers on Instagram. As an early adopter of social media, GE is often among the first brands utilizing new platforms – they’ve even launched a Snapchat account! They strive on quickly understanding their audience and tailoring content to meet their needs.
After growing their global workforce to over 300,000 employees, GE realized that they were struggling to engage and connect with their employees in the same way that they were reaching their customers. As a result, GE created GE Colab in early 2012.
Creating a Culture of Collaboration
GE Colab is a customized internal social media platform that has revolutionized communications and collaboration between GE employees around the world.
“At GE, we define employee communication as connecting employees to the information and people that will help them perform their best, be successful and drive desired outcomes,”
– Becky Edwards, Director of Employee Communication at GE.
Designed by GE employees for GE employees, GE Colab combines elements of personal social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) to allow for enhanced information sharing, communications, blogging, videos and search capabilities. Employees are able to follow each other, use hashtags, comment on posts, and link discussions to documents. In late 2012, more than 115,000 employees were actively using the platform with over 3,000 employee user groups.
However, GE was not fully satisfied with the uptake of usage. Only one-third of their workforce was using Colab. In the bi-annual GE Opinion Survey (GEOS) employees were given the opportunity to share their thoughts on how to improve communications and participation. The result: an overhaul of their communications strategy to integrate even more social tools across the organization.
- GE Colab continued to reverse the traditional communication hierarchy (top down approach) to have managers and leaders communicate directly with staff through discussions, blog posts and Q&A sessions
- Manager Snapshot was used to allow managers to provide regular, timely communications to employees
- Management encouraged staff to continue using blogs, newsletter and surveys to communicate with each other and enable knowledge sharing
A Shift to Social
After implementing the newly created communications strategy and continuing to evolve existing tools to better meet the needs of their employees, GE achieve the following:
- An 80% increase in employee participation in feedback surveys
- 8,000 employees submitted questions via the company intranet for the next GEOS survey
- An 11% engagement rate (20,000 likes) and 60,000 page views for the GEOS survey
Lessons for others
Size really doesn’t matter. Just because you’ve got a global workforce of over 300,000 people, doesn’t mean that you can’t be connected. Connectivity leads to collaboration which ultimately enhances company performance and results.
You really CAN teach an old dog new tricks. For GE, developing a social platform for employees to collaborate, share, and connect with each other has been far more effective than the traditional methods of top down communications. The company has enabled employees to live by their slogan, imagination at work.
The #SpringBreakIt campaign is an example of how GE is using social media to attract a new audience. Submitted by General Electric on YouTube.
Organizations should not be afraid to think outside of the box and take risks. Companies operating in traditional industries are no longer limited by traditional communication mediums, both for internal and external communications.
Submitted By: Alicia Bedard
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