Starting a LinkedIn Group
Social networks emphasize conversations and interactions between people. Most popular social networks, like Facebook and Instagram, tend to be more personal in nature and not focused on business networking. LinkedIn brings together professionals and business owners and provides several ways to have a presence and interact, namely personal Profiles, Company Pages, and Groups.
LinkedIn Groups provide a platform for business-minded individuals who share a common interest, experience, affiliation, or goal to communicate. They function like Facebook Groups or other group discussion platforms.
Anyone with a LinkedIn Profile can start a LinkedIn Group, either as an open or moderated online community. Hosting a LinkedIn group for your company can:
- Strengthen your relationship with existing customers.
- Build a community of your customers to provide customer service.
- Provide information, resources, and other benefits to your customers.
- Extend your brand’s reach to prospects, vendors, partners, and other colleagues.
Why would someone want to join a LinkedIn Group owned by or managed by your company? If you have the expertise to share or want to engage others in dialogue for mutual benefit, a LinkedIn Group can prove not only useful to you but to others as well. Form a Group around topics related to your company although look for ways your Group can have a broad appeal.
For example, if you’re a marketing firm working with nonprofit organizations, you could start a LinkedIn Group to bring together staff members from various nonprofits - not only your customers but other nonprofit professionals - to talk about the issues they face. Then you could provide basic tips and advice that showcase your knowledge, and, over time, this could lead Group members to hire you.
If you sell guided tours of ancient ruins around the world, you could form a group for travel enthusiasts interested in the preservation of sacred sites. You could use this forum to share news and information about locales but also about tours you’re organizing, providing easy ways for people to ask for additional information or to sign up.
By creating and hosting a LinkedIn Group - or any online community - you are attaching your company name to a group of people who hopefully interact around shared interests. You are also taking on the responsibility of moderating the conversation and managing the community.
The main features of a LinkedIn Group include:
Post to the Group Conversation topics and threads appear on your group’s landing page. Members can post conversations and you can control moderating posts in your Group settings or allow members to post freely. Posts can include text, photos, videos, or polls.
Members - A list of members of your Group is accessible to all members and to the public depending on your Group privacy settings.
Pin/Unpin You can opt to pin posts to the top of the Group’s landing page for increased visibility.
Analytics You can review growth and engagement highlights and details for your Group.
Managing Your LinkedIn Group
LinkedIn encourages Listed Groups that show publicly, however, under the Manage section, you can set privacy to make an Unlisted Group. You can restrict who can post content to your Group as well. The more open your Group, the more likely it will grow, and the more members will participate.
Add a logo to represent your Group for branding, and you can opt to display your Group logo on your personal profile to show your affiliation. When people join your Group, this logo can also appear on their profile, further promoting your Group.
When you set up your Group, you can publish Group Rules along with the description. Basic rules are an important aspect of any online community. Edit and customize your message templates under the Manage administrative area. Templates include automatic messages that go out to people who request to join and to new members.
To start conversations in your Group and to keep them going, post relevant and interesting news and information beyond just your company news. Establish a messaging calendar for your Group consisting of things to share that will provide value to the Group members while showcasing your expertise. Keep promotional messaging to a minimum. Use your Group for informal market research by asking questions and analyzing responses.
Running a LinkedIn Group is like running any online community. You have to seed the conversation and weed out the off-topic or inappropriate comments. Before starting a Group, determine the purpose of your Group, the value you can provide to group members, and how a LinkedIn Group can be an asset to your company.