In B2B marketing, creating and managing your own LinkedIn group for your brand is a great lead generation strategy. LinkedIn groups draw prospects to you in several ways:
1. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By engaging in the discussions your group members have and answering questions, you show how you're a resource.
2. Grow a community of advocates. Hosting valuable, industry-centric conversations is helpful to your current and potential customers. Because of the group, they will advocate for the content you share and develop a connection to your message and brand.
3. Get ideas for content. This one isn't as obvious, but it's huge! Get a sense of the conversations people are post and questions they are asking. Use that as inspiration for your blog posts.
At HubSpot, we've learned a thing or two about building and moderating LinkedIn Groups through our LinkedIn groups, including:
- Inbound Marketing University Certified
- Inbound Marketing University Alumni
Here are some "tips from the trenches" that will help you kickstart, grow and maintain a LinkedIn group of your own.
5 Tips for Managing LinkedIn Groups
1. Pick Your Poison - Open Group or Closed Group
LinkedIn offers two group settings, open or closed. With an open group, discussions are publicly visible. Anyone can join, and depending on your moderation settings, anyone can submit discussions (or you can require moderator approval before the discussion is visible.) In closed groups, people must request to join and the discussions aren't visible to everyone on LinkedIn. A "lock" icon appears next to your group name to indicate this.
The pros and cons? An open group grows faster. You'll get more discussions, more members and more opportunity for lead generation. Discussions and groups are indexed by search engines. While that won't help your own site's rankings, it will associate your brand with the keywords, phrases and conversations that are meaningful to your company. Open groups also mean more moderation of discussions, whereas closed groups tend to be smaller and naturally more focused.
Choose which approach works for your goals.
2. Set Some House Rules
Community guidelines are an important part of any forum. Under the "manage" tab, you will find the section where you can set some Group Rules to set clear expectations for what you hope members get out of participating with your LinkedIn group. Spam and self-promotion are party-fouls. They ruin the fun for your group members who are actually trying to learn and connect. Give some tips on what members can do to make the most of the group, and in a direct but friendly way, make note of what won't be tolerated.
Need inspiration for your Group Rules? Check out Flickr's community guidelines. They're some of the best in the biz.
3. Send Announcements to Your Group
Generate leads from your LinkedIn group by sending announcements to your members. You're allowed to send up to one announcement per week. Under the Manage tab, you'll see an option to send an announcement on the left hand side. Make the most of it by sharing content that leads members to fill out a form on a landing page on your site. Whether this is for an eBook or white paper or an event registration, be sure you're leading them to a landing page where they will convert.
4. Grow Your Group: Invite Your Network
You can do this in two ways: Send invitations, or share the group.
Invitations: Under the manage tab, you'll find an option to send invitations. Invite colleagues and professional connections to participate. Be strategic, though. Don't mass-email your entire professional network asking them to join. Use personalized messages and explain to people why you think they'd enjoy the discussions in your group.
Share the group: If you want to go the mass-invite route, you can select the Share Group option in the top right hand corner. There, you'll find an option to post the group not only to your LinkedIn profile (this will show up in LinkedIn's main activity feed as well) but you can also share it on Facebook and Twitter. Even though it's a mass "invite," still personalize it by filling in the message box. Provide context and explain why you are sharing the group.
LinkedIn shows some engagement metrics to help you measure your progress, including sharing who the top influencer is. The thing is: You don't wanna be that guy. A community member should be the top influencer. A community forum is about connecting members to each other, not another broadcast channel. At its best, your forum will include mostly discussions related to your business but not about your business. The conversations will teach your customers use your product or service better.How are you using LinkedIn for lead generation? Have you considered creating a group for your business? Let us know in the comments!