LinkedIn is commonly regarded as one of the most valuable social media tools to find employees and network with other professionals. LinkedIn is also a valuable tool to increase sales and revenue, and generate brand awareness. The network has a lot of tools to help you do this, but you need to understand how to use them well.
One area that often is overlooked by business owners is LinkedIn Groups. This can be a powerful networking tool because LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups at a time.
Before you start utilizing Groups, make sure your business profile page on LinkedIn is updated, and professional, because you want to make a good first impression when you start interacting with others in the industry.
So, how do you get started?
Join Some Industry Related Groups
Look for groups of people that may be interested in your product or service. Find at least 10 different groups that are related to your industry, that are also at least somewhat-active, and join them.
Let’s just say your company is Princess Pups and you sell outfits for dogs.
You could start by searching for “Dog lovers,” “Animal lovers,” or something similar.
You can also try more locally based groups if your company relies on customers in your area. For example, something like “Pet lovers in California” would be a good place to start.
Now that you’ve joined some relevant groups, you need to become a valued, participating member. Simply joining these groups is not enough. Comment on group members’ posts, share insight, opinions, thoughts, etc. and stay active in the group. Aim for posting at minimum once every week.
Once you’ve made yourself known in the group, use your influence to your advantage. Let the group know when you have a new blog post on your site or an awesome sale going on. (Don’t forget to include a link to the new post or sale item page.)
Be careful to not do this too often, or to be too spammy because you may just irritate people instead, losing potential clients or relationships and destroying your own efforts.
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- Be creative. Write something that is funny, controversial, challenging, etc., something that will intrigue people and encourage them to visit your site.
- Use proper grammar. Nobody likes to read posts that sound like they were written by a six-year-old.
Create a Group of Your Own
When you’re browsing already existing groups, you may find that there are no groups that specifically target what you’re looking for; in this case, you could create your own. Or, if you just want to have more capabilities that go along with running your own group, you could start a group similar to what already exists.
Why it’s important: Creating your own group is beneficial because you can more easily monitor success. Ultimately, you will create a group that is perfectly aimed at your niche, with members who are interested in your content.
Where to start? Create something that is valuable to people in your industry.
Using the Princess Pups scenario again, let’s say you couldn’t find an active animal lovers group, so you create one. Or maybe you found one but still wanted to create something more niche of your own.
You could start a group titled: “Puppies Deserve Bling”
- Use about 50 characters for the title of your group, and keep it catchy.
- When writing a description for your group, make sure the first 140 characters are well written and detail exactly what the group is about. These are the words that will show up in search engines.
As is true with joining a group, the same applies to creating one. I.e. simply creating a group is not enough.
You must ENGAGE in these groups! Whether it’s a group you’ve created or joined, active participation will greatly enhance brand awareness and expand your potential audience. When you engage with group members, you also create friendships and business partnerships – which will ultimately work for you as referrals back to your company.
These members will essentially become promoters of your brand with minimal effort on your end.
If you can’t manage the group yourself, you will need to have someone in charge of monitoring and engagement. This person will be representing your brand, so make sure to use someone who fits the bill.
Whoever is in charge, they will be the voice of the company, and they will have to:
- Create a welcome message, and send out announcements or automatic email responses for inquiries.
- Keep the group free of spam.
- Continuously invite people to the group who may be interested in the content.
- Set up discussions or ask questions of the group to encourage posting. This will need to be done at least once a week. E.g. “Do you think male dogs can wear pink?” “What’s your favorite type of outfit for cats?”
- Engage, Engage, Engage!
So far you’ve only joined about 15 groups, what other options are available?
Join some groups you personally are interested in. Chances are, if the owner of Princess Pups is also interested in a group for Fashionable Women, you can assume some people in the Fashionable Women group are also interested in clothes for puppies.
And now you’ve just expanded your reach again. Use these groups the same way you’d use the others, always making sure you aren’t being too promotional or spammy.
The recipe to success with LinkedIn Groups, as well as many other forms of social media for businesses is to be pro-active. Engage with others in the group, continuously push out new information, and be a resource for others. Be an industry leader, and be creative. Try out new things, and always measure your successes.