Many marketers recognise the social media isn’t just about growing a huge following anymore. With Facebook and Instagram algorithm-based feeds, it has become more difficult for brands to reach their followers if those followers never engage in any of their content.
An engaged audience is better than a large one. That's why we have created quite a few articles on the subject like How to Better Engage with Your Fans on Social Media and 5 Ways to Engage Millennials on Social Media for those with a younger audience.
Similarly, the social media landscape is changing, and major social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are taking another look at closed communities and tweaking them to be more useful, not only to the casual user, but also to brands.
In this post, we'll discuss why you should use LinkedIn Groups for business and provide solid tips on creating and managing them.
So, Why LinkedIn Groups?
Linkedin Groups, or LinkedIn in general, doesn’t have the greatest reputation for helping brands increase engagement with their community. Many groups are unmoderated and often filled with spam and irrelevant links. However, it has some advantages that make it a better option to use than other social platforms. Let’s get started:
1. Social Platforms are Refocusing Efforts on Groups
Social media is no longer a venue for just generating buzz for your business or products. The communication between customers and brands are now equally just as important, and social platforms have recognized that importance for both parties to have a sincere dialogue with groups.
Over one billion people on Facebook are members of groups, and earlier last year, Facebook held its ever communities summit for group administrators and later introduced new analytics tools and options for groups to help admins grow their communities.
David Spinks, founder of CMX Hub, tweeted out a newsletter sent by the LinkedIn team regarding improvements about the sites network’s community feature:
LinkedIn announced that they're going to put an increased focus on groups in the coming months. New features:— David Spinks (@DavidSpinks) January 16, 2018
- better group discovery
- improved content and discussion features
... they have a long way to go, but excited to see the focus on community. pic.twitter.com/eE2Xt19LNr
We still have to see how this will unfold, but it is clear that LinkedIn sees the potential benefits of groups for users on the platform.
2. LinkedIn has Unique Community Features
One advantage that a LinkedIn Group has over other social media platforms are unique community management features. An example of this feature is that LinkedIn sends an email summary of the activities in the members of your group. Similarly, you can send an administrator announcement to your members’ emails. These features keep your members informed about the interactions in your groups and can encourage them to be more engaged in your group discussions.
3. LinkedIn is Growing
Facebook and Instagram are the darlings of the social media marketing world because of their large user base, but LinkedIn has significantly grown recent years. According to their about page, the platform now has more than 546 million users in 200 territories worldwide.
This bodes well for your brand considering it opens another viable avenue for marketing. LinkedIn is a professional network that caters to people who want to advance their careers and build their authority in their industry. This means LinkedIn can provide a better opportunity for brands to engage with their customers especially those in the business-to-business (B2B) industry.
If you’re interested in creating and managing a LinkedIn group, we put together a brief tutorial on how to create an amazing group below. Let’s get started:
How Do I Create an Amazing LinkedIn Group?
1. Pick a Topic that Resonates with Your Customers
We want our customers to engage in conversation about our products and services, but they are more likely to talk about the wider spectrum of your industry. In a sense, professionals may want to discuss more about how to succeed in your industry rather than how to use your products. Similarly, discussion about how to use products and services don’t open other avenues for conversation.
What can you do instead? One of the best ways to get your customers to engage and grow the membership of your LinkedIn group is to find a topic that resonates with them. For example, Hubspot's LinkedIn Group focuses on Inbound Marketing. Similarly, if we were managing a LinkedIn Group, our customers would most likely want to discuss social media marketing/ management.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask when picking a topic for your LinkedIn Group:
- What are your goals for the group and your community?
- What are the common topics in your industry?
- What topics would be useful for your customers? (hint: what do customers frequently ask?)
Having a topic that resonates with your customers won’t just get you more membership; it can also help encourage members to start their own threads and make it easier for you to manage the group.
The topic for a certain group can be reflected in their ABOUT THIS GROUP description, so try to visit some of the groups in your industry and see what topics your customers are likely interested in.
About This Group description on Linkedin can show the main idea or topic of the group
2. Create Your Group
After deciding on your topic, create your group on LinkedIn. To do this, log in to LinkedIn, go to your LinkedIn Groups and click create group. You will be taken to a different pane and asked to fill out the group’s title, logo, description, rules, and membership (standard or unlisted).
All the fields are required to be filled except the Group Rules. However, we recommend filling that out with the basic rules to start. This will help you manage the group more easily and guide the conversations.
Here's an example of rules from the Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group:
You will notice that this update focuses mostly on links. It may very well be that the group has had substantial issues about links that don’t add to the conversation or are plain spam. It is important to be clear about these rules at the beginning, or update them when necessary, to ensure that you foster healthy conversation within your groups,
3. Create Message Templates
LinkedIn allows administrators to create custom messages for people who want to join your LinkedIn Group. To access this feature, simply click Manage on your group’s homepage, select Templates, and click Create Template for the messages you want to customize.
You can use different message templates like:
- Request to Join
- Welcome Message
- Decline Message
- Decline and Blog Message
If you don't craft these messages, people requesting to join will receive a default message from LinkedIn, so we suggest crafting these messages wisely. They can help set the tone for your group and help showcase your brand’s identity.
4. Grow Your Group
One of the easiest ways to grow your LinkedIn group is to invite people whom you’re already connected to. This can also ensure that the members of your group are already interested in the topic that your group focuses on.
Similarly, you can use your LinkedIn Profile to promote your group and encourage your connections to do the same. In addition, you can promote your group on your other social media sites or through your mailing list.
You can also optimize your Linkedin Groups by including keywords that people in your industry would likely use. If you want to know more about optimizing your accounts on the platform, see our guide on How to Maximize Your Discoverability in LinkedIn Search.
It is important to note that you need to grow your following responsibly. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, especially if you want to create an environment that fosters conversation. Some of the largest LinkedIn groups have nothing but spammy links. It’s better to grow your community with people who want a meaningful discussion rather than an army of self-promoters and people who just post spam.
5. Start Conversations and Really Engage
One of the most important steps in creating an effecting LinkedIn group is to start the conversation. In the beginning, your group will be empty, and it's your job to get everything started and encourage everyone to share their thoughts.
A way to do this is to create a "welcome post" that welcomes new members and talks about the topic of the group and encourages people to read the rules. This is an evergreen post that every new member must read to make them feel welcome and set the tone for the conversation they will have, so make sure to feature it so it's always on top. To feature a post, simply click the three dots on the upper right of the post and select feature.
Next, you can create the first discussion in the group to encourage people to start posting and give them a rough guideline of what posts are ideal for the group. One way to do it is to post a statement about your industry and ask your followers for the point of view. This encourages people immediately to share their thoughts. Similarly, you can post a simple question daily, like what James McDonald did for his group, so members are constantly encouraged to post.
Don’t simply start a conversation and leave it at that. It is important to stay active in your discussions by commenting on or liking a response made by a member. This can help encourage members to continue commenting on threads.
Responding and liking comments can pose a challenge, especially if you're handling multiple social media accounts. However, the payoff is huge, especially when you create a thriving community. One way to ease the burden is to use a social media management tool with an integrated messaging feature. For example, Social Report's Smart Social Inbox, lets you find and join social messages across different platforms in one place, which makes it easier to manage discussions in your LinkedIn group.
6. Keep Moderating
A crucial practice in all LinkedIn group is to keep moderating groups no matter the size of your group or the frequency of people posting in it. It is important to enforce the rules you set and remove spam posts accordingly to avoid members opting out of the group.
Spam is the number one reason people leave groups on LinkedIn according to their site. It can also contribute to people ignoring posts in your groups. Deleting a spam post or comment is fairly easy to do. Simply click on the three dots at the upper right corner of the post or comment and hit delete.
Also, encourage your members to flag inappropriate or unnecessary content, which can else bolster the sense of community within the members. Similarly, you can take advantage of LinkedIn's built-in moderation system that flags promotional content.
"A crucial practice in all LinkedIn group is to keep moderating groups no matter the size of your group or the frequency of people posting in it."
There are other ways to create an amazing LinkedIn group filled with productive discussions and an engaged community. There are more than a few ideas you can find in this thread; check them out and see which ideas best serve the type of group you’re creating.
Similarly, you can join groups in your industry and copy some of their best practices. Approval is needed before joining groups, so it’s best to ask to join as many relevant groups as possible to help you get started right away.
You can start with the groups mentioned in this post, like the Content Marketing Institute LinkedIn Group. Alternatively, you can join some of the most popular groups on the platform, like Digital Marketing, which boasts over a million members.
These large, established groups will have their pros and cons. For example, it would be safe to assume that Digital Marketing will have its fair share of members who will self-promote or post spam links. However, try to observe both the good and the bad. Examine how the administrators deal with spammers or self-promoters and observe how they help encourage conversations for their members.
LinkedIn Groups don’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to creating engaged communities, but there are recent efforts to improve the experience by the company itself. There are a lot of positives in creating a group on the platform, but you have to do it the right way. Be sure to find a relevant topic, grow your following, encourage posting, and never forget to moderate the group.