science, technology, innovation, YouTube, Tumblr, Snapchat, lesson plans, and
Bill Nye. Oh my!
Science is a big, ambitious campaign from GE based on a simple premise: The
language of emojis can be used to make science topics fun and relatable.
campaign sprawls across multiple social networks and digital platforms –
including a lush Table of Experiments hub – and has even been
incorporated into real-life classrooms.
we sat down with Sydney Williams, Manager of Global Digital and Social Media
Marketing at GE, to learn more about how the campaign came about and where it’s
Q: Starting off broadly,
can you tell us about the history of Emoji Science? Where did the idea come from and what are the goals of the
A: Emoji Science launched
in October of 2014; we, like many people, saw the increase in the use of emojis
and knew we wanted to do something with this trend.
really wanted to lean into this idea of using the language of emojis to unlock
stories about science, technology, and innovation. One of our goals as a marketing team is to communicate
ideas in ways that are relatable and fun.
in 2014 we launched Emoji Science, originally as Snapchat campaign. We opened an
Emoji Science lab at NYU, in the chemistry department, and for three days we
asked fans to snap us an emoji and we sent them back a science experiment
inspired by the emoji.
had different guest scientists stop by our lab; so Bill Nye the Science Guy was
there, Rosario Dawson stopped buy, Jessica Williams from The Daily Show, and a
point was to encourage science at home, to show science can be easy and
unlocked with something as simple as an emoji.
the course of those three days we saw an overwhelming response from not only
young science and tech fans, but also from teachers and educators. We realized
we were onto something, that we had found an interesting way to inspire young Millennials
to be interested in science.
shortly after the Snapchat campaign, we released what we call the Emoji Table
of Experiments – if you go to emojiscience.com it is front and center –
and we’ve been expanding the franchise over the past year.
been working hard to position the series at the intersection of science and pop
culture. So we look for cultural moments; like on Star Wars Day – May the 4th
– we jumped into the conversation to talk about the science of light and
example is the summer solstice in June; we released a Emoji Science Snapchat
filter that celebrated summer solstice, and which highlight’s GE’s role in
around Comic-Con superheroes were a big topic of conversation, so we created
our own superhero emojis; those superhero emojis were made up of advanced
materials, which again is another very important topic to GE.
course, we’re continuing to evolve Emoji Science in ways that stick to the core
of why it started: to break down complex science in a really fun, simple, and
Q: How do the lesson plans fit in? Are these pieces of content being used formally in
A: The lesson plans were an idea that originated
from feedback on social media; a lot of teachers were talking about how they wanted
to use the emoji experiments to educate.
we worked with the National Science Foundation as well as the National Science
Teachers Association of America to put together these lesson plans. We offer
them for free, and they can be downloaded by anyone and used by anyone. We also
sent out a bunch of Emoji Table of Experiments to teachers and students.
hope is that they provide new ways to inspire interest in science in the
Q: What’s the story
behind the accompanying
A: At the beginning of the campaign we brought
Bill Nye on to be sort of our “emojineer” and he evolved into an ongoing collaborator
on these videos.
has been our partner in producing the pieces. There’s a series of five featuring Bill Nye that have been posted on
the Mashable Watercooler channel.
Q: How did you approach
building an audience? Was it organic outreach, paid, or a mix?
A: We’ve done a mix of both; we’ve had it
published across many of our platforms and also done some paid amplification.
also brought on different influencers in the space that already have pretty
large followings and have had them help spread the word.
of course, there’s a lot of organic traffic from the press about some of the
work we’ve done.
Q: Do you have a personal
favorite piece of content from the campaign?
A: That’s kind of like picking a favorite child,
is probably the Snapchat poster we did. We took screenshots of the summer
solstice selfies people posted using our filter, then made an animated GIF out
saw such a great response to that campaign with the Snapchat filter, it was
really fascinating to see the engagement and how people used it.
Q: Any advice for other
brands that want to tackle this sort of big cross-channel undertaking?
A: I think something that’s worked really well
for us is when we find the right intersection between technology and pop
culture and our own narrative.
we get that trifecta right we see a lot of success. It’s about finding a way
where we can help tell our brand’s story and also provide entertainment and/or
would also say we experiment a ton. Some things are great successes and some
things fall flat, but the key is that we give ourselves the leeway to really
try new approaches.
Emoji Science we rarely do something the exact same way twice; we’re constantly
innovating and iterating to make sure that we’re staying ahead of the curve.