GE: Harnessing the Power of YouTube Creators to Tell Its Story [Case Study]

GE: Harnessing the Power of YouTube Creators to Tell Its Story [Case Study]

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At last week’s IAB Digital Video Marketplace, Katrina Craigwell, the Director of Global Content & Programming at General Electric, and Maureen Polo, the General Manager at Fullscreen, presented a case study entitled, “How GE Leveraged Video to Elevate Science and Creativity.” They discussed why video is critical in GE’s mission to attract new audiences and their presentation was one of the highlights of the day-long event.

Although video marketers already know Fullscreen is a multichannel network (MCN), Polo updated the attendees of the IAB event on the global media company’s current numbers. Fullscreen has more than 70,000 channel partners, who get over 34 million unique viewers a month, and more than 5 billion monthly video views. That’s bigger than a breadbox.

And all of us already know about GE, right? Heck, it was founded in 1892 by Thomas Edison. But, did you know that GE still considers invention and innovation to be its core or that the company is always looking for surprising ways to tell its story? I confess that I didn’t – until Craigwell and Polo explained how GE and Fullscreen were building a community of science and technology enthusiasts while fostering love for the GE brand. How do you do that for a 123-year-old company? According to Craigwell, “We harness the power of creators to tell the story of GE through their own voices.” So, let’s take a look back at some of GE’s favorite creators.

Slow Mo Guys: Breaking Down GE Science   

Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy run a series called The Slow Mo Guys, which has become the biggest channel on YouTube for slow motion videos. Using extreme slow motion captured by a Vision Research Phantom high-speed camera, they’ve accumulated more than 555.5 million views and over 5.3 million subscribers.

The channel started when Gavin got access to a Slo Mo cam when he was working on a movie. Since then, the duo has capturing the incredible moments we wouldn’t be able to see with our eyes. In “Super Hydrophobic Surface and Magnetic Liquid” Gav and Dan are in the GE lab using nanotechnology to show you cool liquid physics at 2500fps. This GE video has generated more than 8.7 million views.

The first experiment shows a superhydrophobic surface that GE has been working on. The surface traps a layer of air using its nanoscopic structure, which prevents water from sticking, and can be used for aviation and wind power. The second experiment also demonstrates how the nanoscale differs from the macroscale, as Gav and Dan demonstrate how magnetic liquid can defy gravity an actually flow towards a magnet.

Kid President: We’re All Inventors at Heart

Robby Novak portrays the character Kid President on SoulPancake’s YouTube channel. The idea for Kid President came from the belief that kids can change the world. The description of “Kid President – How to Be an Inventor!“ tells us, “It’s easy to make fun of stuff – it’s cooler to make stuff!” This GE video has amassed more than 842.000 views. Kid President has a life-long wish fulfilled when he gets to see how jet engines are made and is provided with the inspiration to finish a project of his own. This video was also an Adweek Watch Award Winner.

AsapSCIENCE: Answers the Burning Questions

Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown from AsapSCIENCE produce weekly videos that touch on tons of different topics about science – from “What Colour Is This Dress?” to “Which Came First – The Chicken or the Egg?” AsapSCIENCE has also created a number of GE videos, including: “7 Myths about the Brain You Thought Were True,” which has over 4.6 million views and is a Digiday Award Winner, and “Will 3D Printing Change Everything,” which has almost 2.7 million views. The channel also produced the following video with the support of GE:

Marquese ‘Nonstop’ Scott: GE Jet Engines

Perhaps the best pop-and-locker in the world right now, Marquese “Nonstop” Scott has astounded audiences everywhere with his dancing abilities and his near-superhuman skills in rhythmic contortion via his YouTube channel. On the following video he dances nonstop to a track produced by Musician Matthew Dear from thousands of audio emissions from GE machines. Nonstop uses his unique skills to bring this track to life, and the clip has generated almost 1.4 million views.

2015: A New Science to GE’s Storytelling

In March 2015, General Electric announced a partnership with Fullscreen to launch a three-month program on YouTube called “Creator-in-Residence.” According to Craigwell and Polo, the program is “a creative content engine that elevates the voices of rising science creators and builds a loyal community of knowledge through consistent programming rooted in entertainment and pop culture.”

sally le page GE artist in residenceIn other words, they went looking for an up-and-coming video influencer who can demystify geeky topics and make unique, compelling, and entertaining as well as informative videos about them. And, they found Sally Le Page, a British biologist at the University of Oxford. Although her YouTube channel, Shed Science, has only 232,000 views and 14,000 subscribers, Sally is now their “Creator-in-residence.” And GE and Fullscreen made a savvy, visionary, gutsy, and canny pick.

In Le Page’s Fiction Fast Forward series, she captures all the brilliant moments in upcoming movies and provides context and background for the real science behind the storytelling. For example, in “Is a ‘Mad Max’ Apocalypse Possible?” Le Page explores renewable energy sources YouTuber Brittani Louise Taylor. She concludes that the Mad Max world is unlikely to be the future here on Earth, after discussions with Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Published on May 14, 2015, this GE video already has more than 278,000 views.

In another video in Le Page’s GE Special Reports, she goes on-the-ground to cover the most cutting-edge and newsworthy stories in technology and innovation from GE. For example, in “Data Science Is Making Trains More Efficient” Le Page explores the GE technology that is making its locomotives more fuel-efficient than ever, and even gets to drive the Tier 4 Locomotive. Published on April 7, 2015, this GE video has more than 90,000 views.

GE & Fullscreen: A Growing Partnership

So, what has the GE and Fullscreen partnership accomplished? Well, from January 2013 to the present, here are the numbers: They’ve added over 35 million views on GE’s YouTube channel and their creator videos have received more than 21 million views. And the partnership has also added 61,000 subscribers on GE’s YouTube channel. That’s a 2,036% increase in new subscribers! That’s not bad, not bad at all, for a maker of jet engines, medical devices, and oil drilling equipment will a little help from an MCN.

Now, it’s not surprising that Craigwell has harnessed the power of creators to tell the story of GE through their own voices. Prior to her current role at GE, she was Associate Director at Attention, a social media agency, where she worked with clients like CNN, HLN, WE tv, A&E, The Guardian, and Morgans Hotel Group.

But, it is surprising that General Electric, which ranks #8 in the Fortune 500, was savvy enough to hire Craigwell as their head of Global Digital Programming. The company, which sponsored Ronald Reagan’s TV career back in the 1950s, was also visionary enough to make Craigwell responsible for digital content creation and distribution strategy for GE in the U.S. The multination conglomerate was also gutsy enough to make her responsible for partnering with GE’s digital teams globally. Hey, who knew that an old dog could still be canny enough to hire the right person to teach it new tricks?



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