GE Oil & Gas supercharges its social media presence
A few years ago, GE Oil & Gas, one of the world’s leading equipment and services’ providers in the oil and gas space, embarked on a series of online experiments. The oil equipment giant trained a cohort of 20-40 high potential leaders to engage online. Becky Edwards was Chief Communications Officer at GE Oil & Gas during this time. I spoke to Becky about GE’s approach to digital interactions. She explains:
“The GE team asked this question early on: what would it be like to take this cohort and supercharge them digitally?”
Becky started at GE in 2010 as Global Employee Communications Leader. She describes the internal environment she joined as ‘socially-enabling-digitally’ and employee-driven. Existing internal GE systems allowed employees to comment and even retract offensive comments. She remembers that in 2010, the ability to request a retraction was a progressive capability at that time.
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GE Oil & Gas empowers high potential staff
By 2012, GE had put together a robust set of guidelines for external social media activities. This set the scene for Becky and her team to develop a specific training programme for the high potential cohort. The programme focused on how they might use their influence in a digital world. As part of the training, Becky and her team prepared the cohort to showcase their digital know-how at the GE Oil & Gas Annual Meeting normally held in January/February of every year.
The team covered topics such as the importance of content marketing, how to create content for social media and where to publish the content once it is created. They also co-created content with the cohorts. The cohort, now digital ambassadors, applied their knowledge from the training on social channels such as Twitter. They could provide a glimpse of the annual meeting for those not present.
GE Oil & Gas enables more online conversations
Becky explains that having set guidelines isn’t enough. As a result of the experiment, Becky says the team realised they needed to visibly and deliberately give people permission. Contrary to the idea that only the most senior person in the team can have a voice, Becky says,
“We needed to tell employees that it’s OK to have a voice, own what you know and share it”
What would be a good outcome for GE Oil & Gas? Becky explains that social media is an enabler that allows the organisation to:
- Do more commercial transactions that stem from digital interactions
- Generate goodwill and positive mind share such that people looking for information can find positive information
- Position GE Oil & Gas employees as thought leaders in their field
- Draw potential and existing customers into a deeper conversation
Traditionally, technical experts share their knowledge through conferences for instance. At conferences, the conversation would be one to many people sitting inside a room somewhere. Becky says,
“Thanks to social media platforms, more people can now fit inside that room”
Check out other employee social media examples: Rackspace
Check out tips for starting a social media pilot: 20 tips