Social media may conjure thoughts of hip, young influencers running an Instagram account for fashion brands. But GE Power recently showed how an industrial company can obtain strong results by letting employees control its social media accounts.
The company temporarily replaced its name on its social media profiles with the employees’ names and faces, and four GE Power employees temporarily took over and “owned” the company’s Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn profiles. The employees, three engineers and a welder, took turns giving behind-the-scenes insights into how the company builds, tests and repairs its gas turbines.
The takeovers drove the most positive engagement for GE since 2017, Adweek reports. It reached second place on LinkeIn’s weekly top performers list in the business, industrial and manufacturing category that week and achieved a 1.9% click-through rate, Adweek reported. Eighty percent of the comments across all platforms were positive, with the largest number coming from Facebook, followed by LinkedIn and Instagram. GE Healthcare, GE Renewable Energy and GE Aviation will schedule their own employee takeovers of social media accounts later this year.
“We knew we had a particular challenge to humanize GE in a way that we’ve never done before,” stated GE director of brand marketing Lindsay Stein in an email to Adweek. “The creative speaks to that — the need to be transparent and to shine a light on the people who continue to drive this company forward.”
Marketing experts agree that social media takeovers can boost engagement, attract more followers and put a human face on an otherwise faceless corporation. To complete a successful takeover, follow these steps:
Set goals. Set goals that align with your organization’s business goals and select metrics that track those goals. The best goals follow the SMART approach. They are: specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time bound.
Choose employees carefully. It almost goes without saying that employees selected to run the social media accounts should be proven advocates of the company and its products. They should also be well-spoken with good conversational and writing skills. It is almost always best to select employees who do not have management responsibilities in the organization. Among those to consider are employees with their own active and interesting social media accounts. The willingness and enthusiasm of the employees in taking on the social media responsibilities are also key factors in the selection process.
Set expectations. Agree on what’s expected from the employee or employees. For instance, determine how long the takeover will last, how many posts it will entail, and what topics will be covered. Provide the employees with the company’s social media policies and any do’s and don’ts, such as rules on profanity.
However, be careful about setting overly strict limitations. The point of a takeover is to feature a person’s voice and perhaps their own content, writes digital strategist Jenn Chen for SproutSocial. Tight oversight may ultimately produce content that sounds like corporate marketing copy and defeat the purpose of the employee takeover.
Grant control. The need to release passwords varies by the platform. Facebook allows administrators to assign editor or moderator roles to others; Instagram does not. The degree of takeover control also varies. In a limited takeover, the employee or outside influencer might only funish the content. In a full takeover, the social media manager releases the password. They may feel more authentic but pose greater risks, although some say companies should trust their own employees. Consider a secure way to transfer your password such as One-Time Secret. “It’ll be great to change your password after each takeover as an additional security measure, too,” says Alfred Lua at Buffer.
Promote the takeover. Announce the takeover plans on the network as well other social media networks and owned media such as the company blog and newsletter. “People who follow your company on Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat might not follow your company on Instagram. Cross-promotion keeps all your followers in the loop,” Lua says.
Review performance. Examine follower growth, engagement rates, views, click-through-rates and other metrics in social platforms’ native analytics and website analytics. A subscription social media analytics service will provide a more detailed and comprehensive view by combining data from all media into a single dashboard.
Bottom Line: GE Power demonstrated how giving selected employees control can invigorate a brand’s social media performance. Other organizations that consider the strategy need to balance clear instructions and expectations to employees against granting them freedom to speak in their own voice.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.