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The Media Court: GE’s Execution of a B2B Tweet

Our road of research on General Electric (GE) has been paved by juggling browser tabs and drinking triple shots of espresso. By the end of this column, we will reach its conclusion.

Looking back, I’ve enjoyed learning about the manufacturing industry and sharing new insights with you. After today, a holistic image of GE’s digital presence should emerge.  But, before we move on to our final topic, I’d like to quickly highlight two huge lessons that came up over the last eight weeks:

  1. Knowledge of market drivers often leads to potential customer segments.
  2. The demographics found within a key segment can inform content strategy for online B2C engagement efforts.
Image via TimesUnion

Today, we’ll continue to consider how General Electric establishes its brand on Twitter. However, our attention will shift toward the arena of business-to-business (B2B) marketing.

To maintain continuity with my last TMC article, we’ll stick with examples from September. At the same time, I’m going to shake things up by having us close read one tweet this week rather than take a cursory glance at three.

This strategy will allow us to dissect the way GE actually executes its B2B outreach.

Let’s dig in!

Right off the bat: What’s the caption? (Our GE9X jet engine, the largest on the planet, is entering the final stage of FAA testing.)

This piece of information primes viewers for everything else they’re about to see. It’s the foundation upon which all subsequent messaging must arise from. As such, it often reveals who a company is trying to reach with their content.

All right, but what catches our eye about it?

For those of us who will probably never need a jet engine, we might still click the video to see the “largest on the planet.” The central importance of this phrase is conveyed through its positioning at the actual middle of the caption. While this giant detail could appeal to average people, the surrounding context probably doesn’t.

By writing that the GE9X is “entering the final stage of FAA testing,” General Electric instead signals to potential buyers that its product is close to market. That interpretation is highlighted by the inclusion of ‘FAA’ in the caption. This stands out because:

  • Not many people know that FAA = Federal Aviation Administration.
  • The few that do know the acronym are far more likely to regularly be involved with planes.
  • Consequently, they might actually need to purchase a new jet or jet engine at some point.
GE9X Image via Notey

From here, we’ll need to consider why the size of the engine would be important to this group. Some relevant clues should arise when we look at our next area of interest…

How is material from the caption reinforced by subsequent content?

We find size directly mentioned at three different points during the attached video:

  • Right at the start of the clip (“Here’s what it takes to test the world’s largest jet engine.”)
  • Again from 0:27-0:30 (“The GE9X is the largest jet engine ever built.”)
  • A final time from 0:35-0:39 (“The engine is nearly as large in diameter as an entire Boeing 737.”)

Taken in context, the broader messaging within the sixty-eight-second clip seems designed to represent GE9X as an extremely reliable piece of equipment. We find this communicated in several ways through the display of its:

  • Eco-friendliness at 0:40-0:44 (“less noise…& fewer emissions than its predecessors,”).
  • Incorporated materials from 0:45-0:53 (“Super ceramics + 3D printed devices…which weigh less than metal, [but] generate more power with less fuel,” ).
  • GE Aviation ‘Boot camp’ from 0:08-0:25 (“Our engines are bombarded with ice, dust, debris for hundreds of hours…& simulate over 3,000 landings and takeoffs,” ).
Image via IMDB

Taken together, the overarching emphasis on size seems to be playing into a simplistic “bigger is better” understanding of durability. By playing up the engine’s formidable size, the company positions its product as built to last. Nonetheless, GE makes sure to include other details as to why its new product is built to be functionally and environmentally sustainable. The last thing General Electric would want is for the GE9X to be the Titanic of jet engines.