LinkedIn is a social network that every business, especially one that targets other businesses, is and should be on; there aren’t many other places where you can position you as a professional and your company as a thought leader in the industry as powerfully as you can on LinkedIn. This network allows you to generate interest for your company and your products and to build awareness around your brand. There’s a good reason why LinkedIn is called “social network for professionals”.
One of its most powerful features are the groups. Whether you’re already managing one, or are thinking about it, these five tips will help you become better at it, and at the same time will help you recognize other well-managed LinkedIn groups that you can participate in (or offer your help in managing a not so well managed group of a potential business partner – but that’s another story).
1. Your group’s name and description
You get approximately 50 characters for the group title, and approximately 140 characters of your group’s description will show up in the search results, so keep that in mind when creating them. The right title should depict your brand, but should also contain your chosen keywords, because that’s how the new members will find you, and it also gets indexed in Google.
As for the description, it should be inviting – for the potential members to want to click through and join. One neat trick is to let them know that they have to apply for the membership – it makes them feel exclusive, and people love that.
2. Group policy
If you want your group to be functional, you have to create a strict and clear set of rules, and insist on them. Include them, or the short version, to the welcoming message to the new members, and re-iterate them frequently. Be clear about what type of content and members’ participation you expect, and don’t be afraid to mention the rules when an inappropriate discussion occurs, or when someone posts something that’s unrelated to the group.
3. New members screening
Of course you want your group to grow, but you want to have quality members in it. Pre-approving new members is a good way to manage new members: look into their profile, where they’re from, what industry they’re in, are they new on LinkedIn or not… Even when you let them in, monitor them for a few days to see how they fit in and whether their posts are adequate. Old members will appreciate this.
4. Group Announcements
LinkedIn allows all group owners to send up to one message to the members weekly. This is your opportunity to educate your members, to let them know if there have been any major changes in the group rules or functioning – or to invite them to subscribe to your blog or to download a PDF guide. Keep in mind however that the content you’re sending them is useful for them primarily, and don’t be too self promotional, like many group owners are.
5. Leading your group
Your group needs a leader – someone with a face and presence, who will be there for the members to see and to communicate with. If you’re too busy to do it yourself, then choose a spokesperson who will be leading the group by creating new discussions and participating in the existing ones (and moderating them), encourage engagement and make sure that the group rules are being followed. This does require a commitment on a daily basis, so make sure that you’ve chosen the right person for the job.
Successful group management means that your group is spam free and its members are happy; when the group members are happy, it’s much easier to showcase your thought leadership content and to turn them into subscribers and clients, so don’t stop here – go and see what fixes your group needs, and fix them now!
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