It's no secret that LinkedIn is a great place to network professionally, post and find jobs, and answer questions and build thought leadership. But if you're using LinkedIn solely as a place to maintain an online resume, you're missing out on a great opportunity to reach and engage with potential customers with LinkedIn groups.
5 Tips When Creating a LinkedIn Group
There are still a lot of industries or groups of professionals not yet represented in LinkedIn groups. If no one has created a group for your industry, go create one. A few tips as you get started:
- Your name is important! Consider which keywords your target members will search for. Make sure your group name is clear and includes these keywords.
- Create a group for your industry, not your company. People are more likely to join a group when it's not simply for fans of your company.
- Design the group logo to fit the small standard logo size. The group logos that are displayed will actually be quite small - keep this in mind, and don't cram lots of hard-to-read-text into the small image.
- Create a custom webpage for the group on your website. When we created the ProMarketers group on LinkedIn, we bought the URL www.ProMarketers.com and redirected it to a page on our site with more information about the group (Note: The ProMarketers group has since been changed to the Inbound Marketers group). This type of page will provide more context, engagement, and visibility for your group. It can have as much or as little information as you like.
- Display the group in the Group Directory and on members' profiles. Take advantage of the functionality already in place on LinkedIn to help your group get more visibility.
5 Tips for Promoting a LinkedIn Group
- Invite coworkers, past colleagues, and customers to join and start discussions. Leverage your existing network to get your group started. After all, who wants to join a group with no members?
- Promote the group on your website, blog, email newsletter, and social media networks. Make sure people know that you have a group and how to join.
- Invite key industry experts to join and engage. If there are some heavy-hitters in your industry, invite them to engage with the community.
- Cross-market to related groups that you manage on different networks. Create a similar group or Page on Facebook and invite members of each network to join the group on the other network.
- Integrate LinkedIn into all of your marketing efforts. Every time you do a webinar or go to a conference, notify your group and invite those you meet to join the group as well.
5 Tips for Managing a LinkedIn Group
- Add discussions, news and jobs. The more opportunities for interaction you add to your group, the more valuable your group will be to the community. All of these features are standard for LinkedIn groups. Unfortunately, it's an all-or-nothing deal -- to add discussions, you must also add news.
- Use featured discussions to highlight particular content or offers. The group discussions can quickly get overrun and it can be hard to get your discussion thread noticed. But, as a manager of your group, you can mark a discussion as featured and this will pin your thread at the top of the discussion board. You can also unpin it at any time.
- Send announcements. Announcements are emails sent by you through LinkedIn to your group members. The benefit of sending these announcements through LinkedIn is that your recipients -- and their ISPs -- are more likely to recognize the email as trustworthy and your deliverability may be higher than if you had sent the email yourself. Announcements will also get added as a discussion thread for your group, and you also have the option to mark this thread as a featured discussion for extra visibility. Announcements are text-only, and have no analytics, so if you want to track clicks, use a URL shortener with analytics to measure the response to your announcement.
- Import your blog RSS feed. If you write a blog that's relevant to the group, you can import your articles automatically to the News section. Go to News -> Manage news feeds and add the RSS feed for your blog.
- Make your own LinkedIn analytics. LinkedIn is still catching up to Facebook in terms of a lot of its advanced functionality. One major piece that's still missing is analytics. So, if you want to track the success of your group, you'll need to make your own LinkedIn analytics. To track the growth of your group, check the number of members every week and keep track of the group size in a spreadsheet. To track the click through rate of links in your announcements, use a URL shortener with analytics like bit.ly. And, of course, be sure to measure the traffic, leads, and customers you get from LinkedIn over time. Hopefully, your group will help drive people back to your business.
If you want to check out a LinkedIn group in action, and want to connect with other marketers on LinkedIn, check out the Inbound Marketers group on LinkedIn (and the Inbound Marketers group on Facebook, too).