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Social Media: Why we need to adopt platform personalities



The smartest brands like to experiment. They understand that for a business to develop – and offer the customer products with even deeper resonance – they need to be occasionally daring and spontaneous. Not everything they trial will work but the lessons learned will be invaluable.


I can’t think of a better digital playground for experimentation than social media, a sector so vibrant and fuelled with creativity that each week seemingly heralds the arrival of a new content-rich platform without which we’re suddenly unable to function properly.


Jelly, for example, is one of the more recent ones. Developed by the founders of Twitter, it relies on people answering other people’s questions in real-time. Simple, useful and utterly addictive. Just as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Hive and myriad others are.


More importantly for brands, though, is that social sites like Jelly present yet more opportunities to experiment, to analyze how a business model which puts social engagement at its core can adapt trustworthy content for a new audience.

Philips is one of the most active brands across most of these channels because we intuitively understand that everything we do, begins and ends with people. We develop innovations because people want them, because societies need them, because the planet will be safer and healthier for them. If people are at the core of our brand philosophy then we need to engage with them constantly – and 24/7 social media is the perfect arena to do just that.



However, perhaps social media is too broad a term, too much of a catch-all for intelligent and highly reactive brands.

Social platforms might be more accurate because that implies a differentiation in approach. What might work on Twitter – say, a link to a video about how Philips’ solar-powered lighting has transformed a remote African community – may lack the necessary gravitas needed for LinkedIn. The customers we want to converse with on Jelly could have entirely different motivations to those on Facebook ­– they both may be forums filled with advocates for Sonicare toothbrushes, but engagement plans must be different for each.

It’s a matter of adopting and adapting. A brand must adopt platform-specific personalities and then adapt both its strategy and content to fit those platforms. That’s the kind of experiment that will enable a company to engage with audiences at an exponential rate.


Too many brands still rely on a one-size-fits-all mentality but the continuing growth of social platforms requires a more nimble approach in which separate audiences are engaged with the same messages but told in different ways.


Such split-personality marketing can only succeed if the content has true value – that it engages an audience, encourages them to share and respond, gives them an insight into the values of a brand. Only then can a content strategy be swiftly adapted according to what is gleaned from customer conversations.


The brands that get left behind are those that stand impassively on the platforms wondering how their reputations might suffer if they cease to be mere onlookers.


Those, like Philips, that are willing to display more innovative fleet-of-foot behaviour are the ones that become more meaningful to and valued by customers. Because we know that it’s not us that matters most but you.

Blake Cahill

Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing

A senior executive with more than 20 years of business development experience, Blake is helping to lead Philips' international rebranding and expansion into new technologies and markets. With a strong background in executing highly complex and results-oriented strategies, Blake has led a series of marketing, creative, client management, product innovation and thought leadership projects for both Fortune 500 organisations and digital start-ups.


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