As of February 2016, LinkedIn had more than 414 million users; that’s a lot of professionals to connect with. One great way to connect and demonstrate individual or company expertise is through LinkedIn Groups; these groups are highly targeted and allow you to connect with other professionals in your industry.
Unfortunately in late 2015, LinkedIn did away with many of the group settings that B2B marketers came to know and love, such as the ability to search group member by keyword or name and the promotions tab. These changes frustrated and angered many marketers, especially B2B marketers. I was not happy.
It is because of this I have decided to put together a few tips on how B2B marketers can get the most out of their LinkedIn Groups.
1. Know Why You’re Creating Your Group
Big question: If you’re creating a LinkedIn Group, why? What are you or your organization getting from it?
With these important changes to LinkedIn Groups, and the emphasis on engaging content, it’s important to not just make a group for the sake of it.
A few of the best reasons to create a LinkedIn Group are to showcase your thought leadership (or the thought leadership of your company) or to create a common location for like-minded professionals to discuss relevant topics. Below is a great example of thought leadership and advice being shared in LinkedIn Groups.
Bottom line: Don’t create a group for the heck of it, have a reason!
2. Decide If You Want Your Group to Be Listed or Unlisted
Now that you’ve decided why you want to make a LinkedIn Group, the second major decision you must make is what kind of group you want it to be.
As I mentioned before, LinkedIn changed many features, including the fact that all Groups are now private and are either:
- “Standard” groups meaning that they show up in search results and people can invite other people without permission
- “Unlisted” groups meaning the group doesn’t show up in search results and only the owner can invite new members
If you’re trying to promote your thought leadership I would recommend the “Standard” group to get the group visibility. If you’re creating a customer support group for clients, I would recommend the “Unlisted setting.”
Bottom line: Use your common sense when deciding between the “Standard” or “Unlisted” setting.
3. Don’t Be a Salesman
One of the changes LinkedIn made was to remove the “Promotions” tab within groups. They have replaced this tab with the “Jobs” tab, which personally I find much more useful.
This recent LinkedIn update that means content that appears even remotely salesy will no longer end up in the long forgotten “Promotions” tab but rather go directly into spam instead.
Bottom line: If you want to have a successful group, don’t be that person posting sales material.
4. Participate in More Groups Than Your Own
LinkedIn is a social networking platform, which, in fact, means you have to NETWORK.
It is crucial to participate in other groups besides your own; this participation will help your overall company and can, in turn, help your group earn new members.
Becoming an active member of the LinkedIn community is essential to building and fostering a community, especially in the B2B world. As a B2B marketer, and in life – relationships are everything.
Bottom line: Network, network, network.
5. Be Consistent
Another way to ensure that your LinkedIn Group is successful is to post consistently. Plainly speaking, if your group isn’t active, LinkedIn members will forget it ever existed in the first place.
It’s important to post engaging content (that means other sources than your website, no one likes someone who overly self-promotes) and respond to members of your group in a timely fashion. After all, the point of social media platforms is to be well…SOCIAL.
Bottom line: Consistency = reliability.
B2B marketers can and should leverage LinkedIn Groups to promote their company brand as well as thought leadership.
These are just a few tips on the new LinkedIn Groups. If you’re interested in other LinkedIn tips, like optimizing your personal profile – I recommend checking out my colleague Derek Edmond’s post.
Do you have any more tips to add? Feel free to reach out via Twitter @KoMarketing.