Real-time marketing spotlight: General Electric’s #IWantToInvent

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

February 11 is Thomas Edison’s birthday and is celebrated as Inventors’ Day. Every year, General Electric (@GeneralElectric) uses the holiday as an opportunity to spotlight its own culture of invention and innovation. On Monday, the brand turned to Twitter to spark conversations and imaginations with the #IWantToInvent campaign.

The campaign

For a week leading up to Inventors’ Day, @GeneralElectric teased the #IWantToInvent campaign with a countdown on Twitter. To build curiosity, the brand shared rich media including images and engaging Vine videos.



@GeneralElectric also highlighted Thomas Edison alongside the company’s own noteworthy innovators.




On Inventors’ Day, @GeneralElectric invited Twitter users to tweet their invention ideas using the #IWantToInvent hashtag. The brand had a team of designers standing by to create blueprint sketches of the tweeted inventions in real time.


@GeneralElectric then sent @replies to Twitter users with illustrations of their #IWantToInvent ideas. The brand produced over 70 of these highly-customized images in just under 7 hours. Some of the more popular designs included solar powered wings, a doorbell ID and an invisible suit.


A few brands even jumped into the #IWantToInvent conversation. @GeneralElectric spotted tweets from Trident, Tropicana and Ritz and whipped up Inventors’ Day designs for them.


To amplify their messages to a wider audience, @GeneralElectric used Promoted Tweets in timelines and in search. The Promoted Tweets were targeted to Twitter users interested in science and technology.


The results

#IWantToInvent increased brand conversations over 4x the daily average and @GeneralElectric saw strong engagement with Tweets throughout the campaign. With a surprise and delight campaign on Twitter, @GeneralElectric was able to own the conversation around a key moment in its marketing calendar. The brand created a one-to-one, real-time experience that got people tweeting and, even better, engaging.

#IWantToInvent took a month to plan and a team of 12 in its Inventors’ Day command center to execute. The campaign shows that real-time marketing isn’t just about being prepared with quick-thinking creative teams ready to respond to unplanned events (like the Super Bowl blackout). It also takes careful planning and integration well in advance of known opportunities that are brand relevant.

As Edison might have said, marketing in real time on Twitter is all about the perspiration and planning that it takes to make a creative execution look effortlessly inspired.