Marketing your business on LinkedIn offers professionals a fantastic opportunity to expand their professional network and get their content out in front of contacts who are already in a business state of mind when they log on.
LinkedIn says that their platform is “the definitive professional publishing platform, where our members come to learn, share and get inspired.” And professionals are starting to notice its value—The platform now boasts over 660 million users.
Out of that 660 million, B2B marketers in particular seem to be finding a lot of success, with 94% of B2B marketers reporting that they’ve started using LinkedIn to distribute content and not simply a place to hunt for jobs or network. If you’re a boutique agency or a small business that serves any other sort of business as clients, we’re lookin’ at you.
And we haven’t even told you the best news: LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs, leaving all other social channels combined to make up the other half of traffic—so when you post links to your content and site, it’s working.
If 660 million sounds like a heck of a potential market, but you’re noticing that there’s somehow still not a lot of engagement on your posts, what’s a marketer to do?
You could run ads on LinkedIn and pay for more reach. Organic reach is indeed being tapered off as a means of motivating companies to spend more money to disseminate their content on the platform.
But what if you don’t have enough extra budget to start something new like paying for LinkedIn Ads? They can be cost prohibitive, since LinkedIn is one of the more expensive social media platforms to advertise on.
Where else can you find new contacts that you can safely assume are interested in a topic relevant to your business and available to be accurately targeted?
Answer: LinkedIn Groups.
What are LinkedIn Groups?
According to LinkedIn, its Groups experience “provides a place in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections.”
In fact, a whopping 98% of LinkedIn members are in at least one group. It can be a unique marketing channel where you can use your personal account to discuss your business or content in a way that may be a little more humanized—where interactions with other users can feel more authentic, but still drive traffic to your business’s site.
Now that you’ve found a place where you can reach potential customers outside of your own LinkedIn connections, and a place where those users are focused on reading about your topic (instead of being inundated with the noise of recruiting posts and new job announcements on the news feed), use these best practices to optimize Groups as a marketing channel:
Choose the right groups
Like with the rest of your marketing efforts, if you aren’t segmenting, you aren’t marketing.
Don’t choose broad, general groups, and instead opt for more specific, highly-relevant audiences. It may seem scary at first to not give content to a high quantity of leads, but don’t “spray and pray”—be intentional. Focusing on a specific target group will allow your content to resonate more effectively and prevent wasted time on low value leads who won’t find value in your content.
Now you need to find these groups, and there’s 3 main ways to do so:
1. LinkedIn Groups Keyword Search
You can search keywords you think of on your own in the main search bar, and use the Groups filter to show Groups results for that search query. You’ll be shown a long list of potentially relevant groups that you can join, and you might see some that include keywords you want to include in your next query to drill it down even more.
2. Recommended Groups via LinkedIn Discover
You can also use the Discover feature. This is where LinkedIn will recommend Groups to you based on information from your profile, like the industry you currently work in or where you went to college. You can navigate to your recommendations by clicking on the Work Grid icon in the top right-hand corner of your LinkedIn homepage. Select the “Groups” option, and then click “Search” on the next page.
3. Tap into your own LinkedIn network
Lastly, you can use your own connections. That’s what they’re there for. See which groups your current customers or your ideal prospects are already a part of—chances are there’s more people like them in those Groups as well. Know someone in your industry that you admire or who is running a business similar to yours? They may have found some groups that will work for you.
Can’t find a group that seems niche enough? Create your own.
If you’ve built up some brand recognition or a large network of connections, hit that “Create a new group” button on the Groups page (after you navigate there from the left-hand side of the homepage or from the Work Grid) and send out some Group invitations.
Follow the rules
This is an easy one. LinkedIn publishes some limits on Groups, and this will let you know how many groups you can create, join, etc. Don’t exceed them, or you may find yourself on the outside looking in after LinkedIn restricts you from Groups activity.
You've found a set of Groups that are right in your wheelhouse—great! But hold on a moment. Before you start posting your latest blog post or your unsolicited opinion on chatbots and marketing ethics, take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules established by the Group Manager, the administrator of your new mini community. Every Group has their own set of guidelines. Besides anti-bullying mandates, the most common rule we see brings us to our next best practice:
Don’t be spammy
On a platform where everyone is looking for rich professional education, engage in content marketing that provides industry knowledge or instructional tips about users’ job functions in lieu of content that is sales-y and directly promotes your own products or services.
People really do want to be empowered by the answers that you provide if you deliver it to people that it’s highly relevant to.
To create a great (non-spammy) post that performs well, try employing these best practices:
- Curate a nugget of text that either explains why the piece of content might be interesting or informational to the audience in the group or draws it back to recent trending discussions in the Group.
- Use a question. Studies found that of all LinkedIn posts that converted, roughly 33% included a question mark, emphasizing the problem-solving and conversational nature of high-performing posts.
- Keep it short and sweet. The ideal character count for conversion is 248, which is only about 40 words to get your point across.
- After you curate your nugget in the post, post the link in the first comment. Since LinkedIn is indeed a business with their own interests, their algorithm favors posts that keep users on LinkedIn—not link them away to other sites. Work around this by creating a post that doesn’t link away to another site, but note that you’ll add a link to the content that you’re reference in the first comment.
Bonus points: Use UTMs to track Group performance specifically. When you review your site traffic, you’ll be able to tell which percentage came from LinkedIn Groups using these unique URLs.
Take time to listen
What are the trending topics and biggest problems? Can you offer education or a solution to those problems with your content?
Remember how we said that posts with questions in them performed really well? It’s because people want to have meaningful discussions about common challenges in their Groups. A great way to join these conversations is to read the trending posts, and if a recent piece of your content comes to mind, go ahead and link it in the comments with a small piece of text about why it’s helpful to the conversation happening on that post.
You can also reverse-engineer this commenting trick if you just finished creating a piece of superstar content that you know people will want to read. After navigating to one of your relevant Groups, use the search bar at the top (you should see the prompt text “Search for posts in this group”) to search for some of the main keywords associated with your content and see if anyone asking questions about that topic. If it’s helpful, comment a link to your content with a short explanation under that post.
Use LinkedIn Groups to improve and inform your content
This is where all that time you spent “listening” comes in. What happens if you’re monitoring all the trending conversations but you can’t think of a relevant piece of your content? That may be a signal that there’s a gap in your content plan that you should fill.
Groups can be a goldmine for content topic ideas from the market you’re attempting to serve. If you see people resorting to crowdsourcing thoughts on a question or problem they have, chances are that they already tried to research their issue independently using a search engine —a missed opportunity where your piece of content could have gotten in front of them.
Final Thoughts on Getting Value Out (and Putting Value in) with LinkedIn Groups
Groups are made up of people who are expecting to have valuable conversations with like-minded professionals—not get spammed. Be intentional and thoughtful in posting the content that’s most relevant to the Group topic or trending conversations, and avoid just methodically uploading every piece of content your business cranks out.
If you need to free up time for scanning recent posts and being able to authentically react and join the conversation using your content, try using a social media scheduling tool so your more general content posts are automated and out of your way.
3 Key Takeaways
- Be highly niche and targeted with the Groups you join
- Listen to trending topics to engage authentically and get content ideas
- Be thoughtful and only post content that will be relevant to the members—don’t be spammy.
Anna Dievendorf is the Marketing Manager at Social Report (and the other brands in the ASG Martech family) focused on bringing you valuable content and social media marketing news through blogs, emails, and social media. Read more about her experience in connecting leads with the right information at the right time on her LinkedIn or connect directly at Anna@Grade.Us