Q&A: Clive Roach, social media strategist for Philips Healthcare

Clive Roach, social media strategist for Philips Healthcare, explains how B2B brands can use social media.

Philips Healthcare

Marketing Week (MW): What does your role involve and how can you persuade people that social media is relevant to business-to-business?

Clive Roach (CR): I’m in the global integrated communications department within Philips Healthcare [a global business which makes medical products including MRI scanners].

I will talk to people who have very early plans or those who want to do something tomorrow.

Once I had someone say they had a very niche product and that no-one really talks about it on Twitter, that they know who the customers are and there are not many people involved in that product.

But within the first 20 results on Twitter there was one of their resellers talking about the product they had just launched, and [the person from Philips] was surprised to see it.

You can ignore [social media], but it is going to happen anyway. So I consider how we can at least monitor the social buzz and react to it offline.

I show people great examples and the business reason for using social media and I find, that in most people, there is a bit [of inquisitiveness] about social.

MW: Philips Healthcare and Lighting uses LinkedIn to talk to customers and hold forums. How else do you use social media in a B2B context?

CR: LinkedIn is an obvious choice because that is where our major stakeholders and customers are. We have the second biggest healthcare group and we have the largest lighting group as well as a healthy cities group.

We have also done a lot of work with Twitter - it is my favourite social network, I have three accounts. As a business, we have Twitter feeds for the lighting business and we are working on the healthcare one. I was also the manager for our Jive [a type of forum] community.

In healthcare we have our own branded forum community and also a very clinical community called Get Inside Health. That is sponsored by us, we don’t run it, and it covers topics including oncology, women’s health and cardiology.

MW: How can B2B brands use newer platforms like Pinterest?

CR: We are also looking at all the new and emerging platforms, including Instagram, Foursquare and Pinterest. I have been very impressed with Pinterest.

I have been monitoring what type of images and text [on Pinterest] generates more click-throughs than others, for example I created a graphic based on a Forrester paper about age in relation to social media. Clicking it went through to more information on where to get more research and it had 85 click-throughs overnight.

I have also found more than 450 pin boards about healthcare on Pinterest. So we are thinking about how we can use people-orientated pictures, not just showing a MRI machine, but showing people being affected by good healthcare, for example.

We are also doing some work in the area of breastfeeding and the problems that young mothers are having - we do have products - but we are really interested in connecting with key opinion leaders, via Twitter and LinkedIn, and I think it would be great to add a Pinterest board to get people to understand the various aspects of breastfeeding.

Instagram is new to B2B and I want to move away from just dumping our pictures on to Flickr. It allows us to use images to portray a brand campaign using pictures and it is a unique way of attracting and gaining awareness.

MW: How do you make sure the broad healthcare discussions people have on social media become narrower - and may result in a sale?

CR: It is very important to really think about what you are going to do before you start anything. The first thing I ask is: what are we trying to achieve with this campaign?

People don’t always think about the outcome they want - whether that is more share, awareness or recall. That should then be tied up with top-level metrics.

I like to create custom metrics most of the time depending on what the needs are. Then you can say to the C-Suite: ‘this has allowed us to move forward in this particular area’.

The rest of it is quite easy, looking at how we create discussion points and choose touchpoints that will get the right type of stakeholder.

A lot of healthcare professionals aren’t on Facebook but are willing to discuss imaging topics, so we have to go where they are, to those medical or healthcare related communities. I have experimented with trying to transfer people from one [social site] to another - but it doesn’t work.

We have to pre-think about those stakeholders that are relevant, and it is important to do some listening. I will look at our LinkedIn groups to see what they are talking about and from that we can create questions and topics that will resonate.

MW: Once people are having discussions on your forums, what do you then do?

CR: This is difficult. Yes, you can have the discussion but you also want some kind of result out of that. There should always be at least one call to action, defined on the objectives and overall theme.

You might have to change [what you do] during campaign itself - if they are talking about something different you might have to recalculate a bit and readjust [your call to action].

Roach is speaking at Forrester’s interactive marketing summit EMEA 2012 Wednesday 23 May.

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