GE Isn't All Me, Me, Me

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The two main tenets of content marketing: Talk about things people care about and don't just talk about yourself.

If the kind of content a brand produces is all “me, me, me”—think of that guy at the party with dip on his face who won't stop talking about his recent life-changing trip to Fiji)—there will come a point when consumers will politely, or not so politely, excuse themselves to powder their noses, and never come back.

One brand that's got a pretty good handle on using mobile and social technology to engage consumers with neat content is General Electric. Just take a look at what it with the 6-Second Science Fair on Vine (see video above). GE launched the #6SecondScience effort looking for user-generated Vines demonstrating how cool science can be.

Fans sent in more than 600 videos, and GE's compilation video was viewed more than 730,000 times on YouTube.

“It's about creating a value exchange,” said GE's director of global digital marketing Paul Marcum at the Mobile Media Summit in NYC. “The 6-second project videos got people participating, and even if it's just for six seconds, that's fine with us.”

Science is at the heart of what the company does—GE makes everything from light bulbs to jet engines—which is why initiatives like #6secondscience just work.

“Sometimes I hear people say they think it's surprising for GE to be doing things like this, but we were founded by Thomas Edison,” Marcum said. “And if we're not innovating in our marketing, we'd be the only ones in the company who weren't.”

Marcum calls what GE does “indigenous social marketing”—rather than native advertising, a term that doesn't do much for him. The burning question is how and where to draw the line between editorial content and advertising content.

The answer is relatively simple: Content that makes sense in context. For example, take the Brilliant Machines campaign, which aims to demonstrate how GE uses data to power technology using real-world examples. As part of the initiative, GE partnered with Uber over one weekend so people could order up DeLoreans on the streets of San Francisco.

“What's more indigenous to Uber than allowing you to order up a car?” Marcum asked. “I recognize there are challenges in terms of setting the line, but I think they can be navigated by smart publishers ready to embrace the opportunity.”

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Founded in September 2009, Stirista is an integrated marketing agency that specializes in ...