What a 125-year-old brand taught us about standing out on social media

March 16, 2017

Written by NewsWhip
GE social media

How can you make a seemingly boring topic stand out on social media? We take a look at how GE and others transformed their storytelling. 

In today’s social media chaos, it’s hard to make your content stand out. Especially if you’re covering a topic like centrifugal pump impellers or energy neutral wastewater treatment.

While these topics may be interesting to your readers specifically, how do you make the content stand out on the bright and hyperactive world of social media? After all, even your most engaged readers are contending with plenty of cat videos and memes in their news feeds.

Despite being nearly 125 years old, GE produces engaging content across all of its channels. GE regularly comes up in our best practice guides for brands on social media for content that transforms aviation, energy, and transportation into fascinating stories for social users.


GE drove over 488,000 views for this Live video going into a volcano. GE actively commented during the broadcast, adding context and responding to viewers.

While not every content team may be able to descend into an actual volcano, there are plenty of tips to learn form GE’s social media strategy.

We’re going to take a look at how content creators like GE are standing out on social, and how tools like Spike can help.

Get visual.

While distilling a complex topic into an image can be difficult, it has tremendous value for social media. Instead of linking to a report or tweeting out facts on Twitter, GE created a visual timeline of famous female scientists.

Although not always the easiest to do, visuals can bring a lot to an otherwise soporific topic. A striking video or colorful infographic can stand out in social media feeds, and catch a user’s attention. 

Looking at our business category for Facebook Pages in the past month and a half, we found that these Facebook Pages saw a large percentage of their engagements came from video content. We also included GE in this consideration. 

Many business-focused publishers, brands, and organizations are seeing an increase in engagements from video. World Economic Forum saw over 75 percent of its engagements come from video content, though only 8 percent of its Facebook posts were video.

Other channels are great for this as well. Maersk Line, a Danish commercial shipping company, wows its followers on Instagram. The brand boasts nearly 63,000 followers and shares stunning visuals of the company’s world travels with them.

Find where you can include visuals that bring your followers into the world of your topic. Create an image-packed story for your brand or industry that they can connect with.

Find the big topics, and how best to communicate them.

What are the best conversations happening around your industry right now on social? Knowing what your audience is resonating with is vital.

NewsWhip Spike surfaces the stories getting the most attention on social media right now, and its predicted interactions feature discovers the content that’s going to go big next.

For GE, this could be a variety of topics. Recently, women in STEM roles has become a prominent conversation on social media. LEGO is creating figurines of famous women from NASA, female engineers are getting shoutouts, and young girls are getting their letters answered by Google’s CEO.

GE honed on this, and used Facebook video to add value to an already active and engaging conversation.


This video is just one of several from GE that focuses on women in STEM. It was one of GE’s top engaging posts for the month, showing that staying ahead of what’s big for your industry keeps you ahead too.

Three of GE’s top posts on Facebook from February 1st to March 15th pertained to women in STEM fields. 

Get on their level.

Today, many millennials are coming to term with a hard truth… they have to be adults. That means dealing with such riveting things as health insurance, savings accounts, and picking out mattresses.
Even if your audience isn’t heavy on millennials, there’s nothing wrong with making your content more accessible. Try to make your content specifically relatable to your audience. Why would this story have an impact on their lives?

View this post on Instagram

A #GE engineer's answer to #WhatsInMyBag is more than meets the eye. The tools that allow us to drive #innovation range from the best and brightest minds to the most advanced digital industrial #technology to a basic toolkit. Amanda Breeden, pictured here, is a Manufacturing Engineer at GE Healthcare in Waukesha, WI. Every day, she taps into her literal and mental toolkit to improve the efficiency of our CT factory line. But #DYK that despite women outnumbering men in higher education, the number of women educated in #STEM drops significantly? That means the STEM field misses out on a wide range of skills. Just one of the reasons we're working to turn the tables on gender #diversity. #BalanceTheEquation Photo by @seenewphoto

A post shared by GE (@generalelectric) on

On Instagram, GE jumps in on trending tags like #WhatsInMyBag and highlights the lives of some of the company’s employees.

Another tactic is to speak in layman’s terms. Let’s look at the success of some brands and publishers who have done this. Some have even gone as far to create verticals just focused on content for the general public. Casper does this with mattresses, Harry’s with shaving, and Mass Mutual and Acorns with money management. 


GE has a content hub as well, GE Reports. The content is interspersed with bright media and gifs that help bring the scientific concepts to life.

Another way GE makes its content more accessible is by exploring new platforms. GE has branched out to Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, and more, making science stories fun and intriguing for broader audiences.

GE’s “impossible missions” on YouTube are quirky and stand out, like this experiment talking to a wall. 
You can also look for ways to personalize your content. By using Spike, we can search for blogs or influencers that may have experience personally dealing with your topic. This can help humanize your content. 

Find New Angles.

Where are there other opportunities for you to join the conversations taking off on social? Your expertise may apply to current events or other culturally relevant topics.

For example, the Syrian refugee crisis has been one of the biggest global emergencies of recent years. GE was able to share its own experience with the Beirut crisis in 2006.

For GE, this helped humanize the brand and show how it reacted to the crisis. On a more lighthearted note, GE also recently joined in on Pi Day, looking at how math could make art.

In addition to other topics, you may find other perspectives for your content as well. Is there an opposing side to anything you’re writing? Another experience that you hadn’t considered? Cover those. GE did this by showing a village in the Himalayas that lived without electricity.


Another way to do this is by exploring content for other brands and publishers. By partnering with others, GE showcases its relevancy and value to new audiences. GE has partnered with brands on Facebook like Discovery, Science Channel, Myth Busters, ATTN:, the Boston Celtics, and more.


This post drove over 28,000 likes/reactions, nearly 14,000 shares, and 4,000 comments. Instead of a straightforward story on technology, GE and the Facebook Page partnered up for a story about ‘creating the impossible’, a sonic screwdriver of Doctor Who fame. This brings GE into nerdy pop culture.

While we might not all have the budget to partner with such big names, influencers can also amplify your content and bring it to new audiences.

So what’s the secret recipe to GE’s social media success?

Let’s recap.

  1. Using strong visuals across multiple platforms
  2. Staying ahead of the trends in its industry
  3. Making its content accessible to audiences from diverse backgrounds
  4. Exploring new angles and channels

With these tactics, a seemingly dry topic can be energized. By knowing your audience, what trends the data is surfacing, and being willing to experiment, you can breathe life into your storytelling. Though it might not be a viral cat video, it may be more memorable in the long term.

See how you can find insights like this to power your strategy. Try NewsWhip Spike.

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