GE Goes Loco for Yo App

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GE is promoting predictive maintenance and optimization services for more than $1 trillion worth of connected industrial equipment, including locomotives, medical equipment and jet engines. Impressive figure but not a very sexy subject, you might think, to generate buzz and conversation about the Internet of things.

That’s why GE CMO Beth Comstock has been praised for her ability to use human connections to power B2B corporate storytelling (credit all those hours in-flight for having time to spark her imagination) and willingness to test leading-edge social and tech channels.

Case in point: GE’s new tie-in with Yo, the head-scratching app that features a single word that marketers have been trying to figure out.[more]

A new campaign is seeing GE’s trains talk in a human (and millennial-friendly) voice, as its trains can now send a daily “Yo” to followers.

The pitch: “Who ever said machines had to talk like robots? Follow the YOLOCO index on the Yo app to get daily updates straight from GE locomotives traveling along the CSX network! http://invent.ge/YOLOCO

As for why test Yo with GE’s locomotives business, it’s a huge (pardon the pun) driver of business and a growth engine for the company—on track (so to speak) to sell 750 locomotives this year—but stop anyone on the street and they’d likely have no idea.

Now, through a unique partnership with the Yo app, those trains will take on a more human voice, as GE continues its push into the industrial Internet. 

The timing is also critical. GE committed $200 million this year to build a low-emission locomotive—just in time to meet U.S. pollution standards that begin Jan. 1, 2015 and last until 2017.

“We placed a strategic bet to be here should it turn and it happened to turn,” said Russell Stokes, CEO of GE’s transportation unit, according to Bloomberg. “We’re clearly seeing indicators that it’s going to be a good 2015 for the railroads.”

As for Yo, meanwhile, the partnership is a proof point that it’s trying to be taken more seriously beyond its one-word origins, and wants to meet the needs of consumers (and brands) thanks to a recent upgrade that lets users ping companies and services for alerts, as noted by the Times of Israel:

Service providers can now offer their users one-tap location-based solutions to their customers’ need. Want to know if it’s going to rain where you are? ‘Yo’ a weather service! Want a cab to pick you up? ‘Yo’ a taxi service! It’s that simple – and the applications are limitless.

Versions of these apps are already available on the Yo Index site. With YoYouTube, for example, users can get a Yo! notification when channels they subscribe to are updated. YoMyPackage tells you where a FedEx or US Post Office package is at the moment when you send a Yo! and your package tracking number. Send out a Yo! with the StarbucksMap app and it will respond with the location of the nearest coffee shop in the chain. 

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