How Philips engages with the global healthcare community on LinkedIn

July 7, 2010

Ed. note: Last week in London, Philips’ Global Director of Online Hans Notenboom spoke with LinkedIn’s Kevin Eyres at UK’s largest marketing event, Marketing Week Live. Their presentation offered a sneak peak into how Philips uses LinkedIn as a platform to engage with their audience in the healthcare sector in innovative new ways. Here, Kevin and Hans discuss some of the key themes and background to the partnership.

Kevin Eyres (KE): Tell us a bit more about the marketing strategy at Philips

Hans Notenboom (HN): As a company, Philips aims to look beyond simply what our technologies can do, and think about how we can improve people’s lives through innovation. Part of this is listening to our customers and the wider community to better understand the challenges they face and where we can improve what we do to stay relevant. A major part of our business is healthcare technology and the more we looked at building a platform to engage with professionals in this industry, the more we realised this community already existing on LinkedIn.

KE: How does LinkedIn benefit your audience in the healthcare industry?

HN: Healthcare professionals around the world discuss the latest technological developments with their peers and colleagues every day. With LinkedIn, we can bring these thousands of conversations happening worldwide onto one platform. Doctors from India to the US to Germany can now share insights and experience in an environment where we play the facilitator in an unobtrusive way. This is vital for ensuring the conversation stays focused and flows easily, delivering real benefits to our audience.

KE: What were the key decisions in getting to this stage?

HN: With the "Innovations in Health" LinkedIn group, we’ve taken a significant step in a new direction for our business-to-business marketing in moving part of that engagement off of our own website. Part of the drive behind that is the realisation that in the future 95% of the online engagement with our customers will happen off our own website. Ignoring that fact would have been a mistake and we now have an opportunity to have conversations with the five million healthcare professionals on LinkedIn in an environment that they are comfortable in and trust.

KE: What role does the issue of trust play in this for Philips?

HN: When it comes to any part of business, but especially something like healthcare, trust is paramount. LinkedIn is your professional identity, meaning the contribution you make is highly likely to be thoughtful and insightful. This is the environment we wanted to create to ensure its usefulness for members. If you don’t add value with these engagement efforts then you won’t get people coming back, and this is a long term investment for us. We’re still in the early stages but already seeing a great level of engagement among the group’s 11,000 plus members and this is increasing daily.

KE: What would be your top three tips for brands looking to engage their audiences through social media?

HN: Firstly, this is not a short term project. Social media needs to be an ongoing, integrated element of your communications with the outside world and your marketing strategy to be genuine. Secondly, context is king. Think about the type of message you want to get to your audience and the right time to do this. Since we're focused in the professional space, Linkedin was the best choice. For other brands social networks might be more appropriate. Finally, moderation is very important. We took the decision to use well-known names in the sector to help us with this and it’s helped keep the conversations relevant and valuable for the members.

KE: Any early insights you can share?

HN: The group is already proving successful in bringing the right professionals together to have in-depth and valuable conversations about their respective fields. The group numbers and engagement have far exceeded our forecasts and we’re excited about the new elements we’ll be bringing in over the next weeks and months.

Note: Innovations in Health is the first of a series of groups Philips will be hosting on LinkedIn, each relevant to a specific sector. For more information on the opportunities for brands to engage the global professional community on LinkedIn, please visit our dedicated Marketing Solution site.