General Electric may be a big company, but it’s not often one that consumers interact with directly. As the company’s global executive director of advertising and branding Judy Hu put it at TechCrunch Disrupt today:

“Nobody expects people to see an ad and pickup the phone to order a new aircraft engine.”

However, GE has an active presence on social media. And starting today, the company wants to hear a lot more from consumers. That’s because GE is crowdsourcing its “next digital/social media ad blitz.” But the company’s vaguely worded pitch (and questionable compensation plans) are likely to bring in less than stellar work.

According to Hu, GE considers its social media efforts as a way to give new recruits a good impression of the company. But it’s also about extending the brand:

“We’re trying to manage a global brand — a brand that is iconic.”

To help grow that iconic brand, GE is crowdsourcing its newest initiative. Anyone, including actual ad creatives, can send
ideas to their Google Moderator tool at ge.com/adideas or in a private email to
ad.ideas@ge.com.

According to TechCrunch:

“The idea is for people like you, our
readers, to submit what you
think are the best ideas on how to engage online audiences, being the
monster company GE is. One thing to remember: this is also open to
advertising industry professionals or startups, as a way to win GE’s
business.”

But GE’s pitch is less than clear. As the new moderator site reads:

GE + YOU = AWESOME

Let’s
face it – when large companies enter the digital space, they are not
always met with the warmest reception. (Translation: they tend to
blunder in, mess it up, and get torn a new one.)

To make sure
GE continues to succeed in new media, we’re going straight to the
experts – you.

And of course, there is some small print. Including the following:

  • If we are interested in an idea that you submit, we will contact you to
    work out an arrangement to use it (if you gave us contact info). But
    remember that more than one person may have posted the same idea, and GE
    or its agencies may already have the same idea in the works.
  • This forum is open to the public so if you post here other people
    will see/have access to your idea.

After reading that, it doesn’t seem that GE is big on intellectual property. It’s one thing to open up submissions to the public. It’s another to give those ideas to the public. If you submit the idea privately, there’s another issue.

As they state, “more than one person may have posted the same idea.”
That’s smart wording to get past the legal department, but a dumb way to encourage people to send in ideas.

And the bigger snag in this plan is that GE does not seem to have a plan in place to pay people who create these AWESOME ideas. What exactly is the incentive to people who might send in their ideas?

As TechCrunch commenter Jack Benoff put it:

“I have a suggestion for GE: do your due diligence as a marketer and
find an agency that can help you accomplish your goals.”

While crowdsourcing may have its benefits, without the right incentives, it’s not likely to bring in great results. Though in the end, this might all be a bit of wishful thinking anyway. As Hu says:

 ”We’re just exploring in this area, but you never know where it’s going to lead.”