Last week, hot on the heels of all of Facebook's exciting announcements , LinkedIn had one of their own: the option to follow companies through the social network. The ability to see employee changes, job opportunities and company profile updates has added even more value to LinkedIn as a tool for Inbound Marketing. While this news is certainly exciting, we've found that many inbound marketers are still curious about how to approach LinkedIn as a whole. Recently, in our customer forums , Melanie asked the question " Are you managing a group on LinkedIn? If yes what have you found that works and doesn't work in managing a group on LinkedIn? Any tips? A check-list, to-do's, recommendations, words of caution would be great."
Several of the HubSpot Certified Partners , who together have years of experience using social media for inbound marketing, had different suggestions on how Melanie could tackle this new project.
John McTigue , of Kuno Creative, started and manages a LinkedIn group for Inbound Marketers in Cleveland that now has 219 members. His first suggestion is to have a set idea for why you are creating a group and then "keep it local and focused." He suggests doing this "[by trying] to fill a need that you see in other communities but not in yours. You will [provide] a great service and it will benefit you as well by enhancing your reputation as an expert and a leader in your field." His one word of caution is to make sure you monitor your group every day -- especially managing those members who are just using the group for spam or self promotion. Groups, in John's opinion, are "for exchanging ideas and information, not for advertising."
Linda Sevier says that she feels the biggest challenge with LinkedIn groups is "keeping people interested" and helping people understand how it can be "a valuable sales tool". Additionally, she says that when you create your group, you should think about if you want to make it a private group or a group open to all interested. While the first allows you to build a very focused, niche group (if desired), having a bigger, open group sometimes leads to more lively and interesting discussions.
And finally, Susan LaPlante-Dube of Precision Marketing Group said that for the groups she manages for clients, she believes that you must make "growing your group a priority so you can achieve the real goals of why you started it." The best ways she's found to do this, is making the group prominent in your marketing materials (your blog, a button on your homepage, on business cards, etc). Additionally, Susan suggests that group managers track the success of your group and figure out what metrics (number of members, posts, links back to your site etc) are important to you. Finally, it's helpful to "have a series of questions/topics lined up to 'pepper' the conversation until the group starts to take on a 'life of its own'."
Certainly with the new LinkedIn "follow" functionality, everyone should make sure their company profile is up to date. But, while you're taking the time to update all your information, sit down and think about if a LinkedIn group is right for you.