Doctor Digital, I keep getting invited to LinkedIn groups, are they worth the time and effort?
Doctor Digital Says:
Everyone is busy, but busyness is kind of subjective, are you busy with measurable outcomes, or busy with being busy? The reaction to any kind of new social media demand is often that it falls in the too busy basket, but each should be assessed on their merits based on what they can do for your business. So, what can LinkedIn groups do for you – lets investigate.
The original intent and purpose of LinkedIn Groups was to utilize the space like a virtual cocktail party, where professions gathered online to share insights and best practices around a common industry, profession or topic. Things got a bit weird and spammy, and Linkedin have had to do a fair bit of social searching to get the mix right, but they have put in the hard yards, and the love is coming back to Linkedin groups as a legitimate place for professional sharing and networking. When done correctly, starting a valuable, engaging conversation on LinkedIn can lead to big business opportunities.
You have two options with Linkedin Groups: you can start a group and fill a gap in your sector, or you can strategically join a group that you connect with and become an active participant in discussions. Like all social media channels where people digitally network, this is not a place for shameless self promotion or push marketing, it is a place to build relationships, discuss issues in your area of work, or in your state or region, work towards mutual goals, and as a happy byproduct, generate sales through the relationships you have formed.
LinkedIn is a good venue for this as it is fundamentally a business and professional social networking channel, people are there because they want to raise their profile and CONNECT, so you are already in a pre qualified space. It is really easy to work out who’s who in the zoo due to the profile information people display, so look to join groups that are full of your prospects rather than your peers, and build relationships along the supply chain at the pointy end.
You can attract new traffic to your website using LinkedIn Groups. Add your website’s RSS feed to the News Section of the groups you are a member of. Share a weekly update with new articles on your website or blog. Create discussions in the Group and share the links to your articles. But remember, do not spam the Groups. Engage genuinely and share relevant information only. There is plenty of utility in what you can do in Groups – you can run a survey or conduct market research with all those qualified members who share your interests and your industry, you can recruit from inside the groups and share your hire needs, and even simply commenting or initiating a discussion will exponentially lift the number of views to your profile – which eventually lead to sales leads.
Due to changes in the way Linkedin groups are managed, you now need to be a member of all groups, largely to stop spamming and non group related content. But membership has its privileges. Did you know that if you're a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first-degree connection in order to message them? As long as you've been a member of LinkedIn for at least 30 days and a member of the particular group for at least 4 days, LinkedIn allows you to send up to 15 free 1:1 messages to fellow group members per month (across all groups you belong to). This is a potentially brilliant way to connect through a mutual interest without having to have a formal digital introduction to another member.
LinkedIn isn’t a social media channel to be ignored, even though it has a much less showy brand than its rivals. It has over 550 million members and is the third biggest social network behind Facebook and Twitter. It exists for business and is a pretty ‘clean’ channel for you to engage and connect. LinkedIn Groups don’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to creating engaged communities, but there are recent efforts to improve the experience by the company itself. There are a lot of positives in creating a group on the platform, but you have to do it the right way. Be sure to find a relevant topic, grow your following, encourage posting, and never forget to moderate the group. And not just you – in the groups you can have your employees be members and participate, you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting, which means you aren’t going to be as busy as you thought you were – problem solved!