How to Create Effective LinkedIn Groups

Groups are an integral part of LinkedIn and, when used properly, a great way to attract employees, position yourself and your company as industry experts and / or generate highly targeted leads for your business.

This strategy guide will assist you with everything from setting up a LinkedIn group to its day-to-day success.

LinkedIn Defines Groups As: 

LinkedIn Groups LogoLinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.

The way that people find groups on LinkedIn is the same way they find any person or business – through a Google search or through the search functionality on the LinkedIn website.  The search functionality within LinkedIn isn’t as sophisticated as the algorithms that power the Google search network.  Also, people tend to search differently on LinkedIn compared to search engines.

LinkedIn’s search algorithms are based primarily on keywords as were the search engines’ algorithms of yesteryear.  This means that if you’re trying to get ranked on LinkedIn – whether for a group, your company page or your personal profile – you want to focus on the keywords that you’re looking to rank for.

The second main difference in the search functionality of Google and LinkedIn is the way in which people search on the two platforms.  On Google, someone might type in+ “online marketing” or “social media marketing” or “social media strategies” whereas on LinkedIn, these searches would be for the person or company and be something like “online marketing analyst”, “social media manager” or “online marketing company”

Topics Covered In This Article

LinkedIn Groups StrategyPersonal Profiles
Groups to Join
Creating Your Own Group
Group Name and Description
Targeting
Group Logo
Posting to Groups
Posting to Your Own Group
Group Managers
Group Features
Group Settings
Group Rules
Message Templates
What to Post
Best Days / Times to Post
Promoting your Group
FREE DOWNLOAD at the end of this post!

Personal Profiles

LinkedIn Personal ProfileGroups, as with most extra functionality on LinkedIn such as ad accounts, are tied to someone’s personal account.  Therefore, someone needs to become the group owner.

Whoever is going to be the owner of the group – as well as any managers who will be contributing to it – all should have optimized personal profiles to include industry keywords.

Have these people add main keywords to as many places in their profiles as they can without it looking as if it’s been “keyword stuffed” (which is against LinkedIn’s TOS).

A good way to know how many times is enough is to do a search for your keywords and see who’s already ranking for them.

When you search on LinkedIn for your keyword, LinkedIn will highlight the keyword on user profiles so you can see all the different places on their profile where the keyword appears and how they’ve incorporated it into the different sections.

The screenshot to the right was the top (local) result for “social media”.  Look at all the places she was able to incorporate the keyword while still keeping it natural sounding.

Groups to Join

Groups and discussions are at the core of the social aspect of LinkedIn and it’s here that the majority of engagement happens on the platform.

When you start your own group on LinkedIn, it’s not the only group that you’re going to be posting content to.  You should join at least 10 relevant groups to start contributing to.  And when you post to your own group, you’ll also be sharing this content in the other groups that you’re a part of.

The goal here is to be seen as an industry leader/expert – someone who is on top of and continually sharing quality industry content, news and events.

To find groups to join, simply do a search for your industry keyword on LinkedIn.  Then sort by how many members the group has and check how active the group is by looking at the number of discussions this month (from the search results page).

EXAMPLE: Search Terms: “SEO”, “SEM” and “SMM”

Using these terms we came up with a list of the top groups to join and participate in:

Group Name URL # of Members # of Discussions Open / Private
Social Media Marketing https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=66325 999,996 226,979 Open
Internet (online) marketing – SEO, SMM, SEM & SMO https://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=3097769 16,481 17,327 Private
SEO SEM Social Mobile (Digital Search & Internet Marketing) https://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=71207 162,121 15,795 Private
Web Developer★Graphic Designer★SEO★SMO★SEM https://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=101364 64,413 27,479 Private
Social Media & SEO | Inbound B2B Marketing Community https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=68961 25,904 31,878 Open
SEO-Internet Marketing https://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1849304 20,000 15,914 Private

 

Joining and participating in other related groups is a must if you’re to see success with LinkedIn Groups. Doing so leads to a number of benefits:

  1. Community Research
    If you haven’t already spent time looking at other groups in your industry, now’s the time. Related groups are a plethora of information about what’s working and what’s not.  The first thing to do is to simply look around at the different groups, reading the top posts to find out what type of material / topics are getting engagement and / or going viral.Develop a list of topics and formats (webinars, PDFs, website links etc) that are getting the most engagement and structure your content accordingly.
  2. Expert Status
    The more you get seen online, the bigger and more important people think you are. Start contributing valuable content to each of the groups you join and in time you will take your position as – and reap the benefits of – a leader in your industry.  This will bring a lot of credibility and traffic to your own group once you get it up and running.
  3. Drive Traffic
    Participating in LinkedIn Groups is an excellent lead generation strategy that should not be overlooked. With the addition of a link in your posts, you’ll be able to drive qualified traffic wherever you like on your site.

Creating Your Own Group

Clicking on the Interests tab in the header nav on LinkedIn will bring up a dropdown menu where you can choose “Groups”.  From here, at the top right next to a list of the groups that you belong to, you’ll see a link to “Create a group”.  Clicking on this button will bring you to a group intake form:

Create a LinkedIn Group - ButtonCreate a LinkedIn Group - Form

Choose a relevant, keyword-rich:

  • A group name
  • A group type (we recommend “Professional”)
  • A short keyword-rich summary
  • A description
  • Your company website URL
  • A dedicated email address specifically for the group

In the second half of the form, you’ll choose the type of access the group will have –

  • Auto-join – allows anyone to join automatically
  • Request to Join – allows the group owner to evaluate the fit of potential members. Sifting through requests to join your group may initially seem like a waste of time but the quality of the group members you’ll have in the end makes it worth the extra effort.

You’ll be able to change the above information once you’ve started the group by visiting the “Manage” tab in the header nav and then the “Group Information” link in the left hand side nav.

LinkedIn Groups - Recommended Settings

Group Name and Description

One of the first things to think about when setting up a new group on LinkedIn is what the name of the group is going to be.  Since LinkedIn’s ranking process is tied directly to the keywords that are in user profiles and groups, be sure to put some thought into choosing your group name.  Remember to choose a name that is both informative and keyword-rich.

The same goes for the group description. You want to include as many relevant keywords as possible while still making the description sound readable and well-written to your human visitors.

You may want the group name to reflect the industries of people you’re trying to target. Search for groups with keywords combined with specific industries and you may find that there are only a few results. This tells us that there is a gap in the LinkedIn group market specifically for those keywords.

From here you’ll want to create your group name – making sure that you include relevant keywords in the title of the group and the main keywords are closer to the beginning of the title.

Include relevant keywords, and variations of, in the group’s description as well.  In the description, you’ll also want to talk about who the group is for and what benefits they’ll get out of joining.

Targeting

Normally when setting up a LinkedIn group, the first thing you’d want to consider is who you’re trying to target.  It is well worth your time and effort to nail down your specific target audience.

Group Logo

The group logo dimensions are quite small so be sure to create an image that fits well within the size allowance and doesn’t contain any hard-to-read text.

  • Image requirements for Group Logo:
    • up to 100 x 50 pixels
    • maximum size 100KB
    • PNG/JPEG/GIF format

Posting to Groups

When posting to the groups you’ve joined, you ALWAYS want to ensure that you’re providing value to the group members.  You’ll also want to make sure that you include a link at the end of the discussions you’re posting.  When you do this, make sure that you include the http:// at the beginning of the link so that it’s clickable.

Posting to Your Own Group

The same rules as above apply when posting to your own group. The only difference is that you’ll want to share your post with the other groups you’re a member of.  To do that, after you’ve posted the article, click on the link to open it in its own dedicated page.  It’s there that you’ll see the ability to share the discussion in each of the groups you belong to.

Group Managers

Groups are run by the group owner and up to 10 group managers. Being a group owner gives you a special status on LinkedIn but also requires a lot of consistent dedication to ensure success. Being a group owner / manager means taking on all the responsibilities that are required for success – inviting people to the group, accepting join requests, posting quality content and moderating.

Since groups take a bit of time and effort to get off the ground, it’s good to have at least a couple of managers to share the initial group workload.

As a LinkedIn Group manager, it’s good to know and understand the 1-9-90 rule as it relates to online social platforms.

  • 1% of Group Members are Proactive – they post questions, start discussions and share information
  • 9% of Group Members are Reactive – they answer questions and comment on discussions
  • 90% of Group Members are Passive – they either don’t even visit the group or only look at what’s being posted without interacting

What this means is that, as a group manager, you’ll need to take on a lot of more work in the beginning to get the group to a level of critical mass whereupon it can almost run itself.

As a LinkedIn Group manager, you’ll want to keep a constant eye on the discussions and comments.  When you see a discussion that warrants being highlighted, you can click on “Manager’s Choice” and it will be pinned to the top of the discussion board.

Group Features

LinkedIn Groups have a lot of use and functionality that has been built into it over the years.  Here are 6 tabs in a LinkedIn group:
LinkedIn Group - Social Media Marketing
Discussions – this is the main tab for groups and is where the majority of the action takes place.  It’s also the tab that you’ll spend the most time on.

Promotions – post anything that could be considered promotional here.  This includes sales, discounts, membership fees etc.  Do NOT post anything promotional in the Discussions tab as it’ll be perceived as spam and can get you ejected from the group (the group owner enables this feature).

Jobs – the jobs tab is a great way to advertise jobs to people within your industry (the group owner enables this feature)

About – whatever you put in the description when setting up your group appears here

Members – allows you to contact other members (maximum of 15/month) through the LinkedIn mail system

Search – allows you to search inside the group for relevant discussions.  You can also see overviews of the discussions that you’re following, started or joined.

Group Settings

LinkedIn Groups - Send an AnnouncementContact Mail: this email address may get bombarded with join requests and other notifications so look into setting up a dedicated email address for your LinkedIn Group.

Activity: you can choose to get sent an email for every new discussion that’s started but you’ll likely find, over time that you get inundated with email.

Digest Email:  receiving a daily email is the system default.  You can change it to a weekly email or no email at all.  Leave it at the default so that you can stay on top of what’s happening in your group.  When it becomes overwhelming, change it to a weekly digest.

Announcements: LinkedIn Group managers can send one email per week to its members (as long as the member has chosen to receive these emails when joining the group). Use this feature to send out weekly mini-newsletters to group members.

Member Messages:  Select whether you’d like to accept messages from other group members or not, even if they are not your 1st degree contacts.  The default is set to allow.

We’ve found the following settings effective when starting a new LinkedIn Group:

LinkedIn Groups - Group Settings

Group Rules

LinkedIn Groups - Group RulesRules are important as they set the standard for the behavior that’s expected from group members.  It’s not that all your group members are going to read the rules before participating but rather that when you have to remove a comment or individual, you can point to the rules as to why.  This alleviates the problem of people taking it personally that they or their post was removed or relocated to another tab (like the jobs or promotions tab).

Establish a set of basic rules for your group, letting members know that job postings, advertisements and spam will not be tolerated.

Something similar to the rules below will suffice:

This is a professional discussion group for {industry} professionals. You do not have to be in the {industry} to participate but you should be involved in some way with {industry} to get the most from this group.

THE RULES ARE:

  1. Be nice and bring value to the discussions.
  2. Be helpful and encourage one another.
  3. Highlight trends, share case studies and resources.
  4. Do not drop links without contributing
  5. Self-serving links will be flagged “Promotions” or “Jobs” and moved to those tabs.
  6. Group members can flag messages as spam and are encouraged to do so to keep spammers at bay
  7. Self-promotion will result in a private warning followed by removal from the group
  8. Hate speech, abusive language, sexist and racist comments will not be tolerated and will result in removal from the group

Message TemplatesLinkedIn Groups - Manage Message Templates

One under-used tactic of getting more group members is to customize the welcome message to include an invitation for new members to invite their own network to the group.

Include some easy ways to share the group and you’ll find that members will help build your group for you.

What to Post

The subject of what to post is a popular question when it comes to any type of social media marketing.  When thinking of what to post to your new LinkedIn group, use the following list to help you spark some ideas:

  • Interesting Articles
  • Great Questions
  • Fill in the Blank posts
  • What one word best describes… posts
  • Controversial Topics
  • Past / Future Events
  • Ask an Expert Q & A’s
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars
  • Videos
  • Surveys / Polls
  • Relevant Cartoons / Memes
  • Industry Resources / Links

If any of the above currently live on your website, don’t be shy to republish those resources as long form posts in your LinkedIn group.

Best Days / Times to Post

alarm-clock-iconYou could argue that knowing when to post is as important as knowing what to post.  If your target audience only accesses LinkedIn through their work computers for example (as the vast majority of LinkedIn users do), you know that they won’t be accessing LinkedIn on the weekends.

The reality is that the majority of users access LinkedIn Monday through Thursday during regular business hours. Therefore, if your strategy is to post twice a week in the group, you’d do well choosing Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The best time of day to post on LinkedIn is between the hours of 8am-9am EST.  The reason for this is that group members choose to receive either daily or weekly emails of the group’s activity and posts made between these hours typically get included in the daily / weekly digest emails to members.

Promoting your Group

Getting your group up and running is the first step. The next step is to try to get people to join your group.  Here are a few ways you can do that.

  1. Join Us in LinkedInInvite People – the easiest way to start populating your group is to leverage your existing network. Invite your current clients to join the group as well as your coworkers.
  2. Create custom webpage – create a custom webpage on your website that contains links and information for the group, giving users a new resource to consult when they have questions.
  3. Email and Social – send out an email to your newsletter list and promote your group via your other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
  4. Create “Join our Group” posts – Post these on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ throughout the month.
  5. Offline Events – If you’re running webinars, speaking at conferences or giving industry presentations, use these events as opportunities to promote your group and the value that members get from it.
  6. Send Announcements – Once your group starts gaining members, you’ll want to use the “send announcement” function to send members important announcements. Since many members will have their settings configured to receive only weekly digest emails, using the announcement feature to let them know of important news ensures that they know about and can participate in discussions vital to their industry.

This feature can (and should) be used to its maximum. LinkedIn lets you send up to one email announcement each week – you should do so! A great way to use this feature is as a type of weekly newsletter.

Now it’s your turn!

 


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