When you’re looking for a cool place to hang out, LinkedIn Groups might not be the first thing to come to mind.
That said, with 500 million members to its name, LinkedIn isn’t actually as un-hip as it might sound!
Seriously, though, groups can be a happening place. When done right, people have real and thoughtful conversations – plus, organizations can build awareness and credibility, generate leads, connect with their audience, and network with industry leaders!
If you’re considering starting a group of your own, or your existing group needs a little love, here are a few ways you can make sure you stand out.
Pick the perfect name
Treat your LinkedIn Group like your very own precious bundle of joy, and give that baby a solid name.
Think about what your target audience searches for, and incorporate those keywords in your title – it’ll make you easier to find.
(Seriously. SEO makes a difference!)
Balance the use of targeted keywords with a name that resonates with your intended audience, stands out, and accurately describes your group’s purpose.
Rock that description
Just like with your group name, incorporating targeted keywords in your description can make it easier for the right people to find your group – so long as you remember to remember to sound a human!
There are literally millions of groups on LinkedIn, so your description has a lot of responsibility. What makes it different? (Remember – being different from other groups can be more valuable than just trying to be better.)
Want more description-writing tips for LinkedIn? Check out our advice for creating a compelling company page!
Remember those handmade signs you used to hang on your bedroom door as a kid that strictly forbade your spirited sibling or parental figure from entering?
Well, LinkedIn has their version of a “keep out” sign – it’s just more polite.
As a group owner or manager, you’re the gatekeeper. You can decide who is in and who is out.
Approving members takes time, but it’s also a quality-control tool. You owe it to your most loyal and active group members to keep the troublemakers out. (We’ll talk in a second about who that might include.)
There are a few ways to go about approvals:
- Accept, deny, or block: When people request to be a part of your group, they pile up in the Pending Members section of your Manage page. Check in on the regular, so peeps know if they’re in.
- Send an invite: If you or a member of your group invites someone to join, LinkedIn assumes you’re cool with it and automatically approves them.
- Whitelist: Have a list of companies that don’t need approval to join your group? Just add their email domains to a whitelist for automatic entry!
What should you be wary of?
LinkedIn may be a social network for professionals, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s behavior is professional – and that means there are still trolls in the mix.
Make sure that interested peeps have been active on LinkedIn for at least 30 days, and take a look at their activity.
Do they tend to join lots of unrelated groups just so they can use them to promote themselves? Do they start non-constructive arguments, or act hostile toward other users? Are they not a person at all, but actually three dogs stacked in a trench coat?
Answering questions like these will make your group a more welcoming place for its users – and it’ll mean you don’t have to put out as many fires in the future!
Establish crystal-clear rules – and enforce them
LinkedIn Groups would be a whole heck of a lot more awesome if spammers didn’t go around disrupting valuable discussions with unrelenting self-promotion and unrelated links to their products, blogs, and events.
(Actually, most things would be better off.)
It happens, though, and that means it’s your job to establish and enforce clear rules for the members of your group.
Be up front about what kind of behavior is and isn’t acceptable. Some types, like bullying or hate speech, might be obvious – but how do you feel about things like self-promotion, or sharing affiliate links?
(Hint: it’s okay if you don’t think of everything in advance. You’re allowed to amend the rules of the road as you go!)
Most importantly, enforce your policies! Your members will appreciate it, and your group will be better off.
Talk to your community
If you don’t want to break up an awesome discussion that’s going down in your group, there are ways to communicate important things to your members outside of the typical conversation thread.
Use the Group Announcement Feature.
Up to once a week, you can blast email announcements to members. Send promotions, reiterate policies, ask people to invite their friends, suggest key discussions, and distribute reminders, promotions, and valuable content.
Send direct messages to key members of your group.
If members allow for it in their settings, contact peeps directly. Ask power players, brand advocates, promising contributors, and industry thought leaders to get involved in extra special ways.
Maybe there’s someone you’ve realized would be the perfect partner for a combined-effort promotion. Maybe somebody offers a service you could really use! Whatever the case, don’t forget that effective networking includes proactive, one-to-one communication.
Automate your onboarding communication with Managing Message Templates.
One-to-one communication takes time – and while it’s important to engage and participate directly with the community, there’s a time and a place for automation, too.
(You only have so much time in the day, right?)
That’s why we recommend automating any marketing busywork like the scheduling and recycling of your social posts – or in this case, work like onboarding new group members.
In fact, LinkedIn lets you create custom automated messages that’ll get sent to people interested in joining your group!
Customize the actual meat of your message and then auto-send messages using these templates:
- Request-to-join: Confirm receipt of their request. Provide that group mission statement we talked about. Let ‘em know when you’ll get back to them. (A day? A week?) You can even make an offer to tide them over – a link to subscribe to your newsletter, for example!
- Welcome: Welcome newbies, state your group rules, tell them you love them (too soon?), ask for referrals, and again, hook ’em up with a lead-generating offer!
- Decline: You have the option to send a message to declined members, but you don’t have to write your own if it feels a little too awkward.
- Block: Same as with the decline – if you want to let people know that they won’t ever be welcome, you can!
Find more members
When you search for groups on LinkedIn, you see both their names and their membership numbers – and if you get stuck at two or three, your group isn’t exactly going to give off that “we’re super credible and engaging” vibe.
At the same time, though, membership numbers are more than a vanity metric! Artificially inflating your stats by populating your group with bots or paid members, for example, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a hub of useful conversation.
Put in a little legwork to attract the right people:
- Send personal invites: Personally invite connections, colleagues, and industry influencers that would be a solid addition to the club.
- Get the word out: Tell your email subscribers and social media followers about your group. If they like what you’re dishin’ on other channels, they’ll jump at the opportunity to hang on another platform.
- Feature your group: You can feature up to three groups on your company page, so include yours. It’ll also show on the profiles of people who join, so encourage your coworkers to hop in, too!
- Ask for referrals: Encourage members to invite their friends! (You can make that a regular reminder, too – not just a one-and-done sort of thing.)
- Participate in other discussions: Become an active member of other groups. If people like what you’re saying, they’ll check you out, and find the one you created!
What do YOU like about LinkedIn groups?
Got thoughts about LinkedIn groups?
Are you an active participant?
Or does it all seem like kind of a waste of time?
Tell us what you think in the comments below!