So you’re thinking about setting up a LinkedIn group? Well you’ve come to the right place. I was recently involved with the setting up of a LinkedIn and Google Plus community for one of our clients and we went through all the tactics to creating a group and building an audience in a Google Hangout training session. This blog post will share with you the insights from our hangout.
The first important thing to remember is why are you setting this up? If the answer is ‘I was told to’ or ‘everyone says our company should have a group’ then you might need to dig a little deeper before you get started. Just because you know a group can be successful doesn’t mean you have to have one. If you haven’t got a clear goal in mind for you group then you will just be posting without any direction and therefore not making any tangible results.
The first thing to do is search LinkedIn for groups that already exist like the one you want to set up. If there is a group out there that does the same thing as your group then maybe you need to consider the benefit of utlising the group that already exists and becoming an active member. Only start your own group if you know there isn’t a group out there like it or you are fulfilling some kind of need in the market that hasn’t been met by the previous groups.
Creating a Group
- Go to ‘Interests’ at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and click on ‘Groups’.
- Click ‘Create a group’ on the right.
- Fill in the required information shown by the red asterisk.
- Add a group image and create a group name – think about this as this will be your group’s branding
When thinking about a name for your LinkedIn group remember to think about the main goal of your group. The name you create must target the people you want to attract. You should also consider creating a custom group name for your logo.
- Choose a group type
- Enter a summary for your group using keywords that are relevant to your group and company brand. About 100-200 words
- Enter a full description, go into more depth around 300-500 words. Explain what the group is about – why it was made- why people would benefit from joining and who should join.
- Enter your website and group owners email
- Decide whether you want people to join automatically or request to join (this will be dependent on the purpose of your group and the kind of people you want in it – if there are strict requirements on who you want in your group then it’s likely you will need to make it a request to join) You can also pre-approve members from a particular domain in case this feature would be useful
- Choose a language for your group and decide whether you want to open it to all countries or you want to base it in a single location
- Click on Twitter announcement to promote the group on your Twitter account
- Read terms of service and check ‘Agree’
- Click ‘Create’ to set up your group as an open group or a members-only group
Inviting People to Join the Group
If you’re a group manager, you can invite others from the Send Invitations page within the group.
- Go to ‘Interests’ at the top of your homepage and select ‘Groups’.
- Click on your group.
- Click the ‘Manage’ tab
- Click Send Invitations on the left and then do any of the following:
- Add people to your invite list
- Type the name of one of your connections in the connections field
- Or click on the address book by the side of the connections field to navigate quickly between contacts
- Add email addresses using the link below the connections field
- Alternatively upload a .CSV file with all of the people you want to invite
- Click Send Invitations.
Invite People to Join Using Email
Sending a standard invitation can be seen as quite spammy and people may not want to engage with these emails so creating a custom email in your email marketing tool is sometimes a better way to go.
Start by going back to the ‘Send Invite’ section under your ‘Manage’ tab. At the bottom left of the screen there is a LinkedIn group link.
Grab this link and go to Bit.ly. Login using Twitter and paste the link in the top bar.
You will see a sidebar appear and at the bottom there is an option to customise the link.
So now you have a custom link you can use this in your email campaign to invite people to the group.
Social Media Examiner posted this image of a customised email from Jill Konrath asking people to join her LinkedIn group. As you can see she has chosen the customised link – join-the-group. Using an imperative when asking your audience to do something helps people make the decision to do it.
Make sure to explain to people reading your email why they would benefit from joining the group. It’s a difficult thing to get people to be active in a group. Most people on LinkedIn have 40-50 groups they are a member of but only 2-3 of those groups are actually regular places they visit and contribute to.
Get People to Engage Straight Away
So when people join your group you don’t want them to immediately forget you’re there and not engage in the group. The best way to get them to make a significant contribution early on is to send them an auto welcome message that asks them to make a quick introduction to who they are in the group.
Go to ‘Templates’ in your ‘manage’ tab. You can click the tick box under ‘Welcome Message’ to make the welcome message automated for new members. Now click on ‘edit template’ and create a customised message for new members.
You should also engage with your members by connecting with them on LinkedIn. This way you can also engage with them on your LinkedIn timeline.
Use Group Announcements
You can email your LinkedIn group once a week with something called ‘Group Announcements’. This is a great opportunity to build leads and make your LinkedIn group members into valuable customers.
Make sure that you only have one main purpose in your ‘Group Announcement’ and don’t over complicate with too many messages and calls-to-action.
Turning a Group into a Community
Any old LinkedIn group will be full of people posting links to their blog post and not really starting any conversation or sparking debate. A real community will have various contributing members and moderators all discussing topics openly and without spamming other members. Remember it’s all about quality versus quantity. So it matter less how many members you have or how many times people post into the group but that people in the group are relevant and what they post is also relevant and worthy.
As the group creator you will need to be fierce on this at the beginning. Later on this will become easier as people in the group moderate each other and members become friends. The key to being a great group leader is giving real value to your audience as well as remaining social with them and continuing to listen on the channel.
So there you have it, a 101 guide to building and growing your LinkedIn group audience and turning it into a community. So what will you do differently to before?
If you have any stories or group growth hacking suggestions that I haven’t mentioned here then feel free to tell me in the comments below.
I’m a very practical person who has to have everything in place before I am happy to hand anything over to a client. I have been working in the Technical & Operation sectors since 2006 and have loved every moment. On a personal level, I love to do anything involving computers and home entertainment, playing the drums and last of all, being a husband and a dad.