We all know there are lessons we can learn from our industry leaders – the best, well-resourced, experienced, big-budget companies – that have a wealth of experience and talent to support their marketing strategies. We particularly wanted to look at their LinkedIn strategies and analyse how they are communicating to see what strategy lessons we can adopt to improve our own LinkedIn pages.
To do this, we decided to look at the top 15 medical device companies by revenue. As you may know, large corporations may use multiple LinkedIn pages – one for the holding company and others for specific business divisions or areas. We wanted to analyse this and therefore we expanded our investigation to incorporate 25 LinkedIn Company pages:
- Siemens Healthineers
- Smith & Nephew
- Smith & Nephew Medical Education
- Terumo Medical Corporation
- Olympus Corporation of the Americas
- Olympus Life Science
- Zimmer Biomet
- B Braun Group
- Boston Scientific
- Boston Scientific Deep Brain Stimulation
- Abbott Diagnostics
- Stryker Trauma
- Cardinal Health
- Fresenius Kabi
- Fresenius Medical Care
- Johnson & Johnson
- Medtronic Brain and Spine Therapies
- Medtronic Cardiac and Vascular
We were curious to see what these industry leaders are doing with their LinkedIn pages. How are they using it? What are their goals? Would they be using it to reach the 7.2 million healthcare professionals that are on LinkedIn, or as an HR tool to encourage and engage employees? Or a mix of the two? We wanted to understand the frequency of the posting activity, but also the content strategy. To do this we tracked all of the selected 25 companies’ LinkedIn posts made over the last month.
LinkedIn commodity market experts claim that to be successful with social media marketing, your business has to strike the correct balance between the amount of self-promotion it does and the amount of engagement and conversation that it participates in. Of course, you want to use your social media accounts to promote your own business, but if that is all you do, you won’t gain many followers and you won’t be very successful. They devised a rule called 4-1-1 that suggests that you should post four pieces of new content, one re-post, and one self-serving post. It is said that if you follow this pattern, you will achieve the ideal ratio of original posts, engagement, and self-serving posts. Is this rule valid for the Medical Device Industry? To substantiate this, we categorised the tracked posts into 4 classes.
PROMOTIONAL posts generally generate low engagement but are relevant to the company. They include topics like new product launches and features, products and services, videos, participation in shows and congresses, corporate webinars, executives, meetings etc.
RELATIONSHIP posts favour high engagement and are easy for everyone to like – posts about charity and meetings, local and international donations, commemorative days like ‘Women’s Day’ or ‘Heart Month’, hiring posts, employee stories and participation in surgery.
INDUSTRY posts often result in high engagement, but sometimes not on the right target. Things like updates on regulatory situations, market trends with comments, user preference, end customers’ appreciation, patient surveys, and patients’ stories (if not too promotional).
CLINICAL or EDUCATIONAL posts attract high engagement but are more difficult to generate. Topics such as a summary of new and interesting studies, testimonials of surgical approaches (if not too promotional), white papers, case studies, etc.
What did we track?
- Frequency of posting – how many posts over a one-month period?
- How content type frequency was divided between Promotional, Relationship, Industry, and Clinical & Educational categories.
- What types of posts are the most appreciated?
- How common, and how successful, is the use of in-post videos?
How did we do this?
- Compiled a list of 25 large, medium, and small companies in the medical devices industry
- Went into LinkedIn, searched company name, clicked companies tag to bring up company options, then selected the relevant company from the list
- Once we had our target company’s page, we recorded the number of followers each company has
- We clicked on Posts
- Once the posts had loaded, we scrolled through each post time-stamped up to 3 weeks old (ie the last month of posting)
- We categorised every post as either Promotional, Industry, Relationship or Clinical, and added a brief description to each.
- We recorded the number of Likes for each post
- We noted every post that had a video included
- Once we had compiled our data, we tallied the totals and transferred relevant data to a spread sheet to analyse any apparent trends.
What caveats are there?
- We were looking for trends that could better our understanding and that we could share with you. Our study is not an exact science, but we were as thorough and as comprehensive as we could be. There will always be subjective decisions: one person’s Clinical is another person’s Promotional.
- ‘Likes’ are continually changing, especially for the most recent posts.
- Followers also fluctuate daily, usually upwards; J&J followers went up by 1,318 overnight.
- Posts appear to be ‘shuffled’ on LinkedIn pages (especially if you click on an in-post link); it seems that not all current posts are visible all the time.
- Number of Likes is obviously proportionate to the number of followers.
- Posting about emotional current events can (understandably) result in an unusually large spike in the number of Likes. In our study posts showing solidarity with, and support for, Ukraine, attracted a huge number of Likes – sometimes 3 or 4 times higher than average.
What did we find?
As we quantified, this is not an exact science, but we did find interesting trends that can help us learn from the best.
- We found that holding company page tend to focus (often almost exclusively) on Relationship postswhilst their regional branches or specialist product branches posted more Promotional and Clinical / Educational posts.
- The average number of posts per month was 13 – almost 3 every week. Does your posting performance mirror this, or do you need to increase the frequency of your posting?
- About 31% of the total number of posts included videos. We often see articles advising us that including a video in our posts will vastly increase engagement. We were particularly interested to see if this applied to the companies in our study. 13 out of the 25 companies were impossible to evaluate, 9 of the 25 companies did not reflect any discernible impact from including videos, and in only 3 of the 25 companies did we did see a positive impact.
- Relationship posts had the most traction. Overall, 52% of our industry leaders’ posts were Relationship posts. Relationship posts were also the most liked, attracting 60% of the total Likes scored. As a general observation, diversity, inclusion, and equality posts feature predominantly in Relationship posts, and themes that are current, like Solidarity with Ukraine, Women’s Day, Black History Month etc, are well received. Corporate news like winning an award, mergers, or publishing positive financial results also score well. Are you posting Relationship posts frequently enough?
- LinkedIn polls seemed to be well received and Votes are positively disproportionate to Likes. Perhaps we see it as ‘just a bit of fun’, and of course it is easy, and impersonal (although not necessarily anonymous) to click on your preferred option. Two pertinent examples are:
- Phillips poll on sustainability garnered 215 likes, but 4,572 votes
- Who founded Alcon? 226 likes and 3,076 votes