Leveraging LinkedIn Groups for Your Business

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Leveraging LinkedIn Groups for Your Business

These days, most small businesses have a presence on at least one social network, the most common being a Facebook Page or a LinkedIn Company Page. Another option offered by both Facebook and LinkedIn is the ability to create a Group. Let’s explore the option of creating a LinkedIn Group for your company.

The first thing to know about online groups is that they are made up of communities of people who are not only interacting with you but with one another. Discussion is the name of the game. Before you delve into building any online group, make sure you have the resources to moderate it, managing not only the flow of conversation but the tone and behavior within the group.

Why Host a Group Versus a Page?

Let’s face it: there is a lot of noise and information overload happening in social media with random information clogging our news feeds. An online group can be even noisier (more people talking to one another and to you), but groups tend to be much more on topic and relevant when moderated well.

Most people scroll through social media newsfeeds, mindlessly clicking “Like” and not always clicking on links to read more information. People tend to join groups to participate in conversations. They look for the discussions to gain information, network, and provide information of their own. A well-moderated group has more engagement from others.

Social networks now control the flow and visibility of posts to encourage you to advertise with them to show up in more people’s news feeds. At this time, online groups – even those hosted by social networks – tend to be less controlled in terms of post visibility. Group posts have the chance be seen by more people who are more attentive than posts to a Page.

Features of a LinkedIn Group

A LinkedIn Group, by nature, will be geared more toward a professional audience since it is hosted on the oldest and one of the largest professional social networks online. LinkedIn Groups contain a number of features including:

Group Name – Your group should contain your company name for branding purposes but can also include a topic such as ABC Recruiters Career Support Group or Jane’s Pet Shop Pet Talk.”

Conversation – The discussion begins with a post and people in your Group can comment on that post.

Permissions – You can set your Group to have moderated or open posting. If you opt for moderated, member posts will queue up and require review and approval to be posted for everyone to see.

Members – Your members are listed with links to their LinkedIn profiles. All members can see the members list. A button lets you invite others to your Group. You can also assign other members to be admins of your Group.

Group Rules – Here’s where you can post some guidelines to the rules of behavior in your Group – community guidelines.

Visibility – You can choose to keep your Group private and unlisted or make it public and any member can opt to show your Group’s logo on their LinkedIn profile.

Jobs – Groups also have a way to post a job that may or may not be relevant to your particular Group.

Overall, an online group or community is only as successful as the conversations that happen within it based on the people who have joined as well as how skillfully moderated it is. A LinkedIn Group can be an ideal platform for bringing together customers, prospects or professionals in general under your company’s brand for engaging conversation and information exchange.