I have been thinking about community building for a quite a while on LinkedIn… and successful examples are not so common. That is the reason why I found the Philips example quite a good case study for us.
The man behind this strategy is Hans Notenboom, Global Director of Online CRM for Philips.
Philips, a new company
Philips used to have many different businesses and was known for its television business. Within 10 years, Philips made a complete change. Now it is focused around 3 main areas; Healthcare (35% of sales), Lighting (28%), and Consumer Lifestyle (37%).
Philips has 118.000 employees worldwide and spends 6% of its sales in R&D which represents $1.8 billion. They focus on B2C and B2B and one of their target on the B2B market are doctors and hospital staff.
On the healthcare side, their main focus is doctors and medical staff:
- Doctors need trustworthy information
- They found out that doctors spend a lot of time on the internet and especially they love being part of communities for sharing information/fears/discoveries
- Philips wanted to build a sustainable community
- They also researched and found 5 million medical professionals on LinkedIn
- They wanted to stick to their mantra: Designed around you, simple.
- Strengthen their brand
- Create more promoters
- Focus on clinical staff
- Build relationships
- Facilitate dialogue
- Be trustworthy/credible.
They crafted a first draft of their strategy. They based the whole strategy around 3 pillars:
1) Philips Commercial website
It is “me and the company” where people ask questions about the Philips products and more technical questions. The commercial relationship between Philips and its customers.
2) Get Inside Health
It is a stand-alone website which provides valued and trusted information to doctors and medical professionals (see picture). You can find information about oncology, radiology, cardiology (the latest data or research).
3) LinkedIn groups
It is more about “me as a professional amongst my peers”. The group is there to facilitate discussions between peers about health issues and concerns.
That is the overall strategy to maximise the healthcare professionals’ experience with Philips, whether they want to get information about their industry, Philips products or interact with other professionals.
They stuck to the Philips mantra: Sense and Simplicity and they applied it to their community building strategy.
Why did they choose LinkedIn?
Hans gave different explanations.
- The objective of being credible and trustworthy is achieved through LinkedIn (according to a study, 77% of people trust the information shared on LinkedIn vs 60% on Facebook, and even less on Twitter, 23%)
- LinkedIn already has 5 million of medical professionals so their audience is already on LinkedIn
- LinkedIn provides a real professional context so people talk about professional topics.
With the screenshot of this LinkedIn group, we can see a couple of interesting points.
- This is an open group so anyone can see it
- They replicated the names of the subgroups they have on the main website and online platform (radiology, oncology…)
- They added a lot of interaction tools with polls, questions, questionnaires (How likely are you to recommend this group? on the right side)
- They feed content from their information website, Get Inside Health
- Their groups gather more than 11.000 members on LinkedIn
- They are in the top 5 in Health
- Lively discussions and professionals exchanging information like this one (see picture below)
- Traffic has been rising steadily on both sites, LinkedIn group and Get Inside Health
As Hans explains:
“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.”
Why did they succeed?
- They went where their audience is, key element for any community building strategy
- They really kept it simple with 3 pillars and a small number of groups on LinkedIn
- They realised that moderation was key
- They used trusted hosts and experts with their strategy to moderate and provide content, they really used influencers to drive memberships and credibility to their LinkedIn groups
- They listenened and adjusted the groups/content accordingly.
Food for thought
I think that Philips has money to invest in building a community especially a medical community. And they don’t want to be a one night stand but really a long term commitment. I am a bit disappointed by the discussions I saw on the website as I thought there would be more exchanges and I still think they need to boost the social interaction in their group even more. But overall the strategy is brilliant as the 3 pillars provide a full experience for any medical professionals.
The specificity of the strategy lies in the fact that their website is not at the centre… They are ready to give away some control which is brilliant for a company of this size.
Philips expects to be engaging as many as 95% of its customers and prospective customers on websites and through social media channels not owned or controlled by Philips within 2 years.
This is what I call “an innovative company”!