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The Media Court: General Electric & Segment Engagement

The time has finally come to dive into General Electric’s online presence!

Some people wait all year for Christmas, while others count down the days until new content strategy articles drop. Maybe you fall into one camp, both camps, or somewhere in between; regardless, I’m happy you’re here.

We will divide our exploration of GE’s engagement strategy into target audience, messaging,and user response on Twitter. That being said, this initial social media study will require a brief inquiry into market segmentation.

Just as I can tailor my work by grouping readers into people who mark off the days until Christmas, content strategy articles, and those who eagerly await both—major corporations also categorize potential customers in order to refine new products and optimize marketing campaigns.

Going deeper, in my last article we discovered the positive impact that home buying trends have on appliance sales. This week, we can use that information to identify a crucial segment for GE: new homeowners.

By focusing on the demographic aspects of this group, we will also be able to simplify our social media study.

Research now becomes essential to flesh out the age, race, income, and marital status typical of those who qualify as  a target customers for General Electric.

An April 2017 piece—“Who’s Buying a First Home”—from The New York Times passes along useful data in these areas. Here are some relevant figures:

  • Median age: 32 years old
  • Median household income: $72,000
  • Race (respondents could select >1 ethnicity): 79% White, 9% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 7% Black
  • Household type: 58% married couple, 18% single female, 14% unmarried couple, 8% single male

Based on the numbers, women should stand out as an extremely important group for GE.

When unmarried, they buy new homes more than twice as often as their male counterparts. In couples, they comprise at least half of all pairs living in a new home. Their buying power becomes even more profound if we consider that women also tend to be the primary shopper within family-owned households.

As a result, we can anticipate that General Electric directs a significant amount of its social media content toward this group.

Let’s take a look at three of their highest performing Twitter posts from last month:

First things first, this is an incredible ad.

While we can easily see how the choice of protagonist relates to the prominent homebuying market of Whites and ‘females’ from above, there’s also so much else going on here.

To be sure, any overt connection to demographics is minimized by the fact that no specific mention of race or gender is ever made in the post. Further, its caption actually works to fight against such categories.

By using a collective “We” and tying in the unifying goal of “making the world…better,” their messaging actually comes off as transcendent.

Another point of interest here stems from how this content works as a means of introducing future posts. Released during the first ten days of September, it looks in hindsight like a preview for the similar messaging that would reappear over the final third of the month.

This transition was brought underway by a rare text-only tweet from GE on September 19th:

Beneath both these tweets, the engagement is stellar. In terms of likes/retweets, the numbers are very strong. What often goes unnoticed is the conversations that are started beneath each post.

Getting people to click a button is one thing, but inspiring them to add to a discussion is something entirely different.

Both of these messages were able to accomplish that pretty successfully, and GE’s powerful replies to commenters in the #BalanceTheEquation post just reiterated their desire to interact with followers.

Two days later, they reaffirmed their brand position as an advocate for women:

In context, their employment of the empowerment theme seems like it was designed to become progressively more overt as the month wore on.Interestingly, most of their click-based endorsements from other accounts rose as their core theme gained clarity in later tweets.

However, the number of commenters peaked on that first advertisement. Perhaps this is where the stength of its universal caption comes into effect. By expressing the focus on women in a subtle yet powerful manner, more people felt inspired to leave their thoughts.

Beyond demographics, the push to empower women also aligns well with GE’s broader philosophy of innovation.

On the one hand, it ties their brand to a topic being talked about all around the world. On the other, championing equality also conveys a commitment to progressive values.

This commitment has resonated with female consumers, and for that reason GE has been listed as a Top 100 company fifteen times by Working Mother Magazine.

A continued effort on social media by GE to engage with this group can only make that bond stronger.

Next time, we’ll explore how GE executes its messaging in tweets geared toward a B2B audience.