Tech brands have always been pioneers of social media marketing. HP was the first company to hit one million followers on LinkedIn. GE was one of the first brands to use Facebook Live for a major event. AT&T won the 2016 Shorty Award for Best Online Community for its multi-platform web series, @SummerBreak.
These businesses set a high bar for using innovative tactics and creative ad formats. They continue to produce successful campaigns that inspire marketers to test their boundaries and optimize their strategies.
Here are five leading tech companies using social media marketing.
1. GE on Pinterest
Pinterest conjures images of cupcake recipes and home decor—not machinery and science facts. And yet, GE has made a name for itself on the platform, with over 27,000 followers and nearly 40 custom boards.
One of the brand’s most popular Pinterest boards is “Hey Girl,” which puts a twist on the famous meme featuring Ryan Gosling. Instead of showing images of the actor with feminist pickup lines, GE created graphics of Thomas Edison with science-themed pickup lines. This one, for instance, generated over 3.2K Pins.
Two other noteworthy boards include “Badass Machines,” which showcases “the biggest and baddest technologies produced by GE,” and “DIY Science.” The latter was used to promote GE’s multi-platform #6SecondScience Fair, which was created for Vine. This post, for example, teaches people how to inflate a balloon using vinegar, baking soda, and a plastic bottle. It generated over 5.8K Pins.
The takeaway: Take risks on new platforms. Even if you don’t think a certain network is right for your brand, try brainstorming unique ways to get your message across. You might stumble upon unexpected strategies that could set you apart from the competition.
2. Cisco on Twitter
In a world fraught with political debates and tragic news, Cisco is catalyzing positive change. The company’s recent campaign, “There’s Never Been a Better Time,” promotes the idea that technology can help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
As Cisco CMO Karen Walker wrote, “Predictions say digital disruption will replace nearly four out of the top 10 industry leaders within five years. While this is a time of tremendous change, it is also a time of tremendous opportunity.”
Cisco is spreading its message through TV spots, a dedicated content hub, and social outreach—particularly on Twitter. The company uses the #NeverBetter hashtag to share real stories about how it’s making a difference in people’s lives. For instance, Cisco works with key partners to provide technology in humanitarian crises and save endangered animals in Africa.
This campaign pulls back the curtain and helps people see how Cisco is actually making a difference across the world. The brand even mobilized partners to help spread the word, giving them unprecedented access to campaign assets such as marketing training courses and digital playbooks.
The takeaway: Build a community around a common cause. If your company cares about something, and you think others do as well, then share it with them. Let your audience know how you’re contributing to a better world, give them the tools they need to do the same, and ask them to share their own stories. This will help humanize your brand and create an important dialog with your customers.
3. IBM on LinkedIn
With over three million followers, IBM was named one of the most influential tech brands on LinkedIn. The IT company uses its page to share company developments, sneak peeks at new products, and stories from its employees.
IBM also takes advantage of nearly every feature LinkedIn has to offer. For example, they run over 10 Showcase Pages for different products and services, such as IBM Cloud, IBM Watson, and IBM Internet of Things. Each individual page has thousands—and some up to 80,000—followers. They even have a separate page that highlights company culture, including photos and videos, cultural insights, and blog posts from employees.
IBM isn’t alone in using these strategies. According to LinkedIn, 100% of the top tech brands share company updates on the network and encourage employees to post as well.
The takeaway: Highlight your company culture. Job seekers aren’t the only ones who want a behind-the-scenes look at your business; customers do as well. They want to know that your employees aren’t just out to sell a product, but that they’re passionate about what they do and the solutions they create.
4. Microsoft on Instagram
Microsoft may sell computer programs, but its Instagram content is all about real people. The brand launched its global account in 2014—four years after Instagram’s launch—with a calculated approach: Highlight amazing stories from people who use Microsoft technology to explore their passions and create change.
Instagram assembled a team to tour the world and meet real Microsoft customers who were doing great things. They then published their photos, videos, and stories on Instagram with the hashtag #DoMore. Their first story, for instance, introduces Laila Ghambari, a barista who uses Skype to share her skills with entrepreneurs across the world.
With over 900K Instagram followers to date, Microsoft is also asking its audience to share their own stories about people who are doing amazing things. This allows them to spread the #DoMore message, accrue user-generated content, and strengthen their relationship with customers.
The takeaway: Celebrate your customers and their passions. These are the people you create products for, and they’re the ones potential customers will listen to when they conduct research. Find creative ways to tell their stories and share them with your audience.
5. HP on Facebook
With over four million followers, HP uses its Facebook page as a go-to hub for industry news, product promotions, engaging videos, and shareable graphics.
The company has launched several successful campaigns on the platform as well. For #BendTheRules, HP tapped celebrities and influencers film videos that inspired others to explore the bounds of their creativity. Most notably, the brand worked with Ellie Goulding and a team of animators to create an interactive, acoustic performance of Goulding’s song, “Burn.” The project was nominated for “Best Music and Brand Partnership” at the 2016 Music Week Awards.
HP also teamed up with influencers to promote its convertible touchscreen laptop among Gen-Z consumers. As a result, the brand saw a four-point lift in recall and a seven-point lift in purchase consideration.
The takeaway: Partner with influencers to grow your audience. Customers want to hear from celebrities, not brands. That’s why influencer marketing can be such a successful strategy. It gives you an opportunity to engage new consumers and expand your reach across the Internet.
Social Media Marketing Like the Pros
It might seem tough to build a community around multinational software and hardware. But as these tech brands prove, you just have to find creative ways to share your message and engage your audience. Get out of your comfort zone and try new platforms. Give customers a common cause to rally around. Celebrate people who use your products to fuel their passions. With these key tactics, you can launch successful campaigns and even pioneer new strategies that have others looking to your brand for inspiration.