LinkedIn is a great place to make connections and raise your profile, especially through groups.
LinkedIn groups are a little different from Facebook pages where it’s all about the number of Likers you have. LinkedIn groups are made up of professionals interested in self-development and personal knowledge management – they want to know more about something related to their chosen profession and connect with others who share their interest.
There are so many LinkedIn groups available these days, yet people are so short of time: how do you make your group one that stands out from the rest and that professionals in your target area would kill to join? Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Decide on your strategy for the group – what is the overall objective?
If it’s just to boost your mailing list, then I’d say stop right now. People are looking for communities of practice and information, not another daily email message spruiking products and services. Find out who the target audience are and what they want out of a group. The biggest mistake people make with LinkedIn groups is thinking “if I build, it they will come”. They won’t.
Do your market research, join other groups and see what’s going on, look at what people are responding to and what they’re not responding to, talk to people in your demographic and look on Twitter to see what content is being re-tweeted. Running a group involves time and effort on your part – which can be so easily wasted if you don’t know what you’re doing there and aren’t connecting with what people want.
2. Set clear and concise member guidelines and enforce them.
There is nothing more annoying in groups than members who don’t play by the rules and use the group as a way to promote their own products or services or boost their connections list. Have clear sections of your group for people to post specific types of content – like discussions, job descriptions or promotions, which will make it easier for members to go straight to what they are interested in. Set expectations for how you would like people to interact with the group and each other and keep an eye on group activity to ensure guidelines are being observed. The best way to keep on top of group activity is to diarise daily or weekly timeslots to moderate the group and stay actively involved with conversations and posts.
3. Demonstrate value and always be giving.
People want information and they want special offers. Always make sure your posts are relevant to members and look to partner with other groups or organisations with a similar target audience that can offer something to your group. This type of joint venture marketing can boost member numbers for you both by tapping into each others’ networks and will also benefit members of both groups.
4. Plan your posts in advance.
This will mean you’re not floundering for content every week – something that can become stressful and is also the reason a lot of groups come to a standstill with low member numbers. Set up Google Alerts to send you content from the web based on keywords that are relevant for your target audience. Google will then email you – at intervals you decide – with links to news articles, blog posts, downloads, videos and other keyword-based content you can share with your group.
5. Create your own content.
It’s easy to share what’s already out there and this is a good way to keep your group content-rich, but creating your own content that can be shared inside and outside of the group gives you something unique. People love a freebie and it’s quite easy to compile short e-books or PDFs on topics like “Top 10 tips for…” and “The best online tools for…” or whatever is relevant to your group members. Why not start a discussion where you get the group to send you their suggestions for inclusion in those documents or articles? This will involve them in a conversation and save you time and effort in research.
The most important thing about running a group is that it’s all about the members and not about you. As long as you keep that top of mind, you will create a group that will interact with each other, share information and – in time – become one that people will kill to join.