GE's compelling content marketing, shown here on their Tumblr page.

This year, General Electric (GE) ranks as the 6th-largest firm in the U.S. in the Fortune 500. Yet the 111 year-old company’s online presence has all the delight and clarity of a much smaller, younger, fresher business.

GE’s core themes are imagination, innovation, and discovery — the sum of which conjure up a feeling of technological greatness.

So how does GE do such a good job of creating a feeling about their brand online?

Innovation in Advertising 

GE made headlines last week with their clever sponsorship of Buzzfeed in celebration of their participation at the Paris Air Show —  a week long event for aerospace leaders that ended on Sunday.

It’s not uncommon today to see page takeovers that reskin a site in a branded way. But Flight Mode takes the page takeover to a whole new level; it’s a site navigation takeover.

While in Flight Mode, Buzzfeed visitors navigate the site by using their keyboard to fly a little plane around the content and land on whatever looks interesting. This experience coincides with multiple Buzzfeed articles sponsored by GE.

"People in positions to make purchases in the aviation field, they like engaging content and the same fun stuff as everyone else," Jon Steinberg, president and COO of BuzzFeed told TechCrunch.

Flight Mode is undeniably innovative, and a fun variation on the usual way we navigate content online. It's novel enough to leave a lasting impression.

Getting Real with Social Media Content

GE having fun on social media with Pinterest.

GE’s social media presence is full of striking images, salient quotes, and interesting ways that technology makes the world better for everyone.

Any one of their social accounts — Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram — would make a good case study for a brand marketing.

They do an excellent job of surrounding the brand with how technology makes the world better for everyone. Beautiful imagery is often paired with an interesting fact about how the technology works. Everything is content.

And it’s not all about education and futuristic technology.

With Pinboards titles like “Badass Machines” and “Hey Girl” — a nod to the popular meme with pictures of Ryan Gosling, only these have images of Thomas Edison — GE shows they have a sense of humor, using the more casual social channel as a way to show a different side of the company.

Other Ways to Add Value

Among the sponsored posts on Buzzfeed that I landed on in Flite Mode was 10 Things You Probably Never Knew About New York City.

After checking out a lot of cool photos and interesting facts, I clicked through to a game called Wonderground sponsored by GE. Here's how Wonderground describes itself:

Both online and in the real-world, this modern day treasure hunt allows players to embark on missions in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and uncover discoveries about technology, history and innovation.

With a sleek interface, 360 views, videos and interesting facts, GE has made learning learning about our favorite cities fun.

Is there a promotional element to the game? I didn't come across any.

But by taking the time to create a beautiful experience that explores science and history in some of the most iconic cities in the US, GE is able to liken to those marvels to it's own brand and mission.

Thinking Smartly About a Complex Website

GE.com's B2B solutions are big on images and social media.

When checking out GE.com, I expected a company with so many products and so much to say would also have a complex and busy website. It's quite the opposite.

The pages are remarkably delightful, with large images, catchy copy, and an emphasis on social media — the same channels which are obviously a pillar of their online presence.

Information is paired down to only what is essential, which makes navigating around the site as easy as enjoyable as navigating around their instagram page.

The responsive design works also looks nice on any screen size.

Lessons Learned 

GE’s executions like Flight Mode and Wonderground are compelling and interesting for their own sake.

After all, what is GE really? A company with deep roots in the history of modern science and innovation.

By surrounding their online experiences with joy, information, and technological success, they provide value to consumers while also evoking a feeling of greatness.

It's smart brand storytelling and it's not over-promotional.

What else can we learn?

Be human. Be interesting. Use content to evoke emotion. Surround your brand with the feeling you are trying to convey.

Whether your company has been around for one year or 111, you can still be fresh, interesting, and provide value in your marketing.