Will Chinese Social Media Take Over in America

Blake Cahill, Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing at Philips, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the different challenges of marketing across B2B, B2C, and B2G, as well as the differences in consumer behavior and social media engagement around the world.

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Full Episode Details

Digital Marketing at Every Level

As the Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing at Philips, Blake Cahill has his hands full.

Philips operates as a consumer business, from personal health solutions all the way through hospital systems, in addition to being a huge lighting business. They’re in B2C, B2B, and B2G spaces, with websites in about 65 countries and 100+ social presences around the globe.

As you can imagine, it’s not a simple task to drive a consistent marketing messaging and historically, there was no “air traffic controller” helping to unify efforts. Philips had a big launch about a year and a half ago that has allowed Blake and his team to re-deploy social channels and create momentum for joining strategies as much as possible.

Blake’s team is now a “center of expertise” that enables and supports all of their businesses and markets. The team breaks out into several different groups, based on capabilities:

  1. Search
  2. E-Commerce
  3. Social
  4. Content & asset management
  5. CRM
  6. Digital analytics
  7. Digital ROI


Then, there are business partners that face off into the B2C, B2B, and market parts of the business. For the global platforms where they create the content and manage the channels themselves, there’s also a channel team. That team creates content for the whole globe, and then the business groups/markets can take it and localize it.

“We’ve got kind of a global-to-local content supply chain, at least on the social properties, to drive consistency around macro themes that we’re trying to own from a social perspective.”

That said, content is not all top-down. When something amazing is happening in one region, they “pull it up into the global content calendar to elevate it outside of the market and give it more exposure.” It’s a two-way street.

Consumers Across the Globe

From where Blake sits, he can observe consumer behavior differences across the world. In the U.S. we would start with a Google search, which might lead us to a manufacturer’s site and/or reviews of a product, and then we go to Amazon to buy. In places like China and Korea, this process happens inside one platform. “Their whole customer journey is completely different because of the different platforms that exist and the social behavior that’s been taught to the consumer.”

Philips is also doing some eye-tracking studies to look at user behavior. Watching a Western European person and a Chinese person find a product on the Philips website highlights the differences in the pathways people navigate in order to consume social, web, and e-commerce.

“The gentleman in China was straight in his mobile app. The search functionality inside the mobile apps in China to find the product, like the amount of time it took them to find it, to be able to buy it, was almost in half of what the Western experience was.” 

In addition to researching consumer behavior, Blake and his team are constantly experimenting with new platforms to see where their audience is congregating and where they can best tell their story. The major platforms continue to be important, but Blake warns against getting stuck there. Every major platform was once a minor platform. “I think that’s why I also have such a keen interest in some of the Asian platforms, because I really think if they move westward, it could be quite changing for consumers and brands if some of them marched west.”

See you next week!

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